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Petition Prohibit employers from requiring employees to have a Covid-19 vaccine

Make it unlawful for employers to mandate vaccination. Eg “no jab no job policies” there are reports some companies are considering.

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This would breach people’s basic rights and discrimination against people who do not or cannot receive a vaccine, unfairly preventing them from employment opportunities.

It would be discrimination. It would be against people’s rights and it should be unlawful to discriminate against someone who is not vaccinated. It would be wrong to make people jobless who can’t or won’t have a vaccine.

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Government responded

This response was given on 29 April 2021

Organisations must ensure their practices are legal and do not unfairly discriminate against individuals. There may be limited high risk settings where requiring vaccination could be appropriate.

Read the response in full

The UK operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations and uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination has been very high across the UK. An employer who proposes to introduce a requirement for staff to be vaccinated will need to consider the existing legal framework, including the law on employment, equalities and data protection.

Whether or not it is justifiable to make COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment will depend on the particular context and circumstances. For instance, the Government has recently launched a consultation on making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in care homes with older adults. This would help to further protect older people living in care homes, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Experts on the social care working group of SAGE have advised that 80% of staff and 90% of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of COVID-19. Only 53% of older adult homes in England are currently meeting this threshold.

A 5-week consultation has been launched by the Department for Health and Social Care looking at requiring care home providers, caring for older adults, to deploy only those workers who have received their COVID-19 vaccination to further protect residents who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. This requirement would not include those who can provide evidence of a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination.

The consultation will help inform decision-making around whether and how the change should be implemented.

The consultation will seek views on the proposal, it’s scope, any potential impact it could have on staffing and safety as well as how it is implemented and who should be exempt. Staff, providers, stakeholders, residents and their families are being urged to take part to have their views heard with a final decision expected this summer.

Full details of the consultation are available at GOV.UK, including information on how to respond to the consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-vaccination-a-condition-of-deployment-in-older-adult-care-homes.

The deadline for responding to the consultation is Friday 21 May 2021.

More generally in the workplace, there are existing legal protections which apply equally in the context of vaccination, as they do in other employment circumstances. In addition to contractual and common law protections, there are relevant statutory frameworks, such as the Equality Act 2010, which provides protection against all forms of unlawful discrimination. The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides various general protections, including against unfair dismissal and unlawful deductions from wages. In addition, collecting, storing and using information about workers’ vaccination status will engage the law on data protection. Employers will need to ensure that they have acted in accordance with their legal obligations when making decisions on requiring a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Government is conducting an ongoing review into the use of COVID-status certification. As part of this review, the Government will continue to explore the equality and ethical concerns bound up with any form of COVID-status certification. In an update on April 5, the Government set out that it believes vaccination is not suitable for all citizens and there are other means of demonstrating a reduced risk of transmission. The Government believes that COVID-status certification could be acquired through vaccinations, testing or natural immunity. It is also important that there are appropriate exemptions for people for whom vaccination is not advised and repeat testing is difficult.

The Government believes that there are some settings (such as essential public services, public transport and essential shops) where COVID-status certification should never be required, in order to ensure access for all.

The vaccine has already had a significant impact on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, with more than 10,000 lives saved between December and March but as we progress through the roadmap and restrictions begin to ease, it is vital we continue to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

Whatever the outcome of the COVID-status certification review, individual businesses and organisations must ensure their business practices are legal and not used to unfairly discriminate against individuals, whether staff or customers.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

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