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COVID-19: UK employers told forcing staff to have vaccines could be a criminal offence amid warning over ‘no jab, no job’ policies. The government says companies proposing to check the vaccination status of staff ‘will need to consider how this fits with their legal obligations’.
Only care home staff in England will need to have both vaccine doses to work under current legislation, with a consultation taking place on whether to extend this to NHS employees.
But in the US, tech giants Facebook and Google are among those to say their staff will have to show proof they have been fully vaccinated before returning to their workplaces. The equalities watchdog has urged companies to be ‘proportionate’ and ‘non-discriminatory’.
Advice from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says ‘mandatory vaccination is an intrusion on an employee’s body and may discriminate on the basis of disability, or religious or philosophical belief. Employers cannot forcibly vaccinate employees or potential employees, unless they work in a sector (such as care homes) where a legal requirement is introduced,’ it states.
‘Enforced vaccination would be a criminal offence against the person and an unlawful injury leading to claims such as assault and battery.’
The CIPD, which represents human resources professionals and has more than 160,000 members, adds that the European Convention on Human Rights ‘protects people from being interfered with physically or psychologically (which includes mandatory vaccination)’.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested it is ‘a good idea’ for people to be double jabbed before returning to the office but said it will not be required by legislation.
A government spokesperson told Sky News on Saturday: ‘While we would welcome employers encouraging their staff to be vaccinated, employers who propose to check the vaccination status of staff will need to consider how this fits with their legal obligations under employment, equalities, data protection, and health and safety law.’
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said it understands that firms will want to protect their staff and their customers by requiring employees to be vaccinated, but it advises them to take other factors into consideration. The impact of such a policy on jobs is not fully understood by the government.
However, a number of Conservative MPs have told Sky News they do not think the government will follow through and actually introduce domestic vaccine passports. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, said that vaccine passports for domestic use would be a ‘massive step and a misguided one’. Source
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