In this video, Adrian Poole, Head of the Employment Law Team, gives an update on 'no jab, no job' and what healthcare employers should be doing whilst the Government is reviewing the policy.
We've also provided a transcription of the video below.
It's been a week or so since I gave my last update with regards to the no jabs no job policy and where things were going. Back then, it seemed likely that if staff in the healthcare sector with a patient-facing role, and who were not otherwise exempt, didn't have the vaccine by the third of February (that being the first vaccine), then they were at risk of losing their job because they wouldn't make the deadline of the first of April to be fully vaccinated.
Well, everything has since changed in that the Government seems to be partway through a u-turn and has announced a two-week emergency consultation to decide whether they're going to continue with this policy or not.
Now, this puts employers in this sector in a very precarious position because, clearly, they have to communicate something to staff. Official guidance is put everything on hold, which is fine, apart from the fact that you will still have the anxieties of those staff who have, to date, said for a number of reasons that they don't want to have the vaccine. It's important that we communicate a supportive message to them, which is this isn't actually our mess, this is a question of policy, you are doing everything you possibly can to support that individual and we will have to see how things turn out within the legislative sphere.
There is a broader issue, of course, with regards to relationships within the workplace when it comes to other staff. There might be some very concerned members of your team worried about working alongside unvaccinated colleagues and they too need to be taken on board and offered reassurance. The underlying message has to be, I think, that there are a number of reasons why people may or may not be in favour of the vaccine and everyone's view is important and it's important that we try and find a working way around this.
It's also important to make clear that any kind of victimization or bullying of staff on the grounds that they are vaccinated, or unvaccinated for that matter, will not be tolerated.
Finally, there are those who you may already have dismissed and that leads, perhaps, to a more complicated issue of what ultimately we are potentially to do to avoid any possibility of litigation arising. As far as those are concerned I’d be inclined, I think, to just get in contact with them to make them aware that, obviously, the policy does seem to be under review and say that you will keep your options open as an employer moving forwards as well.
Again, I think it's important to say that this is not something that you've welcomed or asked to happen within the sector. It is something which has been imposed upon you and that way hopefully you can keep a friendly and amicable dialogue going between you and those individuals who might for obvious and rational reasons be feeling very sore about the situation.
But no doubt there will be more twists and turns along this road and I will try and update you as soon as I can once there are any further developments.
If you require any more information relating to this or any other employment matter, please don't hesitate to contact a member of the Employment Law Team.