Employment Law

Jab or Job

A hot topic at the moment is whether employers can require their employees to be vaccinated.

The Government has made vaccination compulsory for certain types of workers, such as those working at managed quarantine facilities, managed isolation, and so on. A recent case has confirmed that, where vaccination has been mandated by the government and an employee fails to get vaccinated, then dismissal can be justified.

However, for those whose work is not covered by the Government vaccination requirement, the issue is not as simple.

Other employers wanting to require staff to be vaccinated need to establish that it is lawful and reasonable to direct the employee to be vaccinated, and that the failure or refusal of the employee to be vaccinated would put the health and safety of the employer’s workers, or other people, at risk.

Importantly, employers should consult with workers about a mandatory vaccination policy. They should carry out a risk assessment in consultation with workers to determine whether, given the nature of the work environment, the work can be carried out by non-vaccinated people (for example, with social distancing, or the use of personal protective equipment). If it is determined that the work must be carried out by vaccinated workers and an employee does not want to be vaccinated, then the employer should consider redeployment options. If the employer cannot redeploy the employee to other areas of the business, then dismissal may be justified.