Petition Prohibit employers from requiring staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19
Make it illegal for any employer to mandate vaccination for its employees. This should apply to all public sector (including the NHS, armed forces, care workers), third sector and all private sector.
We believe making vaccination a condition of employment undermines the principle of informed consent. All British people should have the right to bodily autonomy and must never be coerced into receiving a medical intervention they may not want.
Any medical intervention must always be with properly informed consent (awareness of risks vs benefits) and be free of coercion (whether explicit or implicit).
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This response was given on 25 November 2021
Organisations’ practices must be lawful and not discriminate. Government has identified limited settings where there is a public health rationale for making vaccination a condition of deployment.
The vaccines are the best defence against Covid-19 and uptake of the Covid-19 vaccination has been very high across the UK. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of infection and therefore helps break chains of transmission.
Government has identified limited high risk settings where there is strong public health rationale for making vaccination a condition of deployment. The Government has recently announced that health and social care services will need to ensure that workers who have direct face to face contact with service users have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, following consultation. The Government response to this consultation is published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-vaccination-a-condition-of-deployment-in-the-health-and-wider-social-care-sector.
This policy applies to all providers, both public and private, who provide a CQC regulated activity, covering a broad range of services including those provided by hospitals, GP and dental practices and social care providers. Ensuring the maximum number of NHS staff are vaccinated will help ensure the most vulnerable patients gain the greatest possible levels of protection against infection. Elderly people, those with disabilities and some seriously ill people in hospital face a higher risk from Covid-19 than the wider population and are more likely to use health and care services more often. The measures will also protect workers, which is important for hospital trusts where extensive unexpected absences can put added pressure on already hardworking clinicians providing patient care.
The Government has set out its Plan B for managing the spread of Covid-19 throughout the Autumn/Winter. As part of this plan, the Government has set out proposals to introduce mandatory Covid-certification in limited high-risk settings such as nightclubs and other large events. Under these proposals, the workforce would also have the option of undertaking regular testing as a means of demonstrating their Covid-certification status.
Outside of these settings, 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.
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 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.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy