Can I enforce Covid 19 vaccinations for my employees ?
Whilst we are still in the grip of the Covid 19 pandemic the situation remains fluid with changes to laws, legislations and best practice happening on an almost daily basis. In addition, a companies clients response to the pandemic and in house practices may be placing increasing challenges on companies logistics and workforce. Your workforce and employees will be feeling stressed and worried about what all this means for them, the internet is awash with both factual information, in addition to rumors and hearsay. In addition to the moral and ethical aspects of the management of their health and safety in relation to the pandemic, we examine below the legal aspects to:
Are Covid 19 vaccines mandatory ?
Currently there are no mandatory vaccinations, and the Government have stated that they do not currently plan to do this. All vaccinations will be voluntary and must have prior consent of an adult or legal guardian.
Can I insist on my employees getting vaccinated ?
No. For health and safety reasons an employer can ask an employee to receive the vaccination prior to attending their premises. This would be due to the concerns both their own health, and also other employees and customers, including those that are high risk and vulnerable.
Clients however may mandate that a contractors staff may not enter their premises if they have not been vaccinated.
Financial Pressure on Staff
Legal and law experts agree that it is not possible to for employers to force staff to vaccinate – although it is the fastest way out of the pandemic situation. There has been however increasing pressure put on employees to vaccinate in the form of:
- The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) announced that UAE Government employees who will not vaccinate will be required to pay for themselves and take a PCR test every days. Staff who have taken the first vaccine only will also be required to pay for testing every 7 days until they have taken the second dose
- Also for Government employees, if an employee has come into close contact with an infected person then they will need to quarantine for at least 10 days. For employees who have had 2 doses of the vaccine the quarantine period may be spent working from home. For employees who have not had 2 doses of the vaccine, the quarantine period will be taken from their annual leave. Or, if they have no remaining annual leave then it must be taken as unpaid leave
Many companies are going down the route of positive enforcement, educating employees on the vaccine and making literature on the subject readily available to dispel rumours and provide factual information. Having vaccine drives to facilitate employees having easy access to vaccine centres during their normal working hours and allowing paid time off for them to access the vaccine.
If not all my employees will take the vaccination, how can I make sure my workplace is safe ?
Some of your staff may be reluctant to have the vaccine because they are “vaccine hesitant” or, they may outright refuse to have the vaccination as they are “anti-vaccine”. If you are facing this situation you should continue to make sure your workplace is COVID 19 secure. Keep your Covid 19 Risk Assessment up to date, enforce social distancing, daily cleaning and providing hand sanitiser in communal areas. Regular communication with all employees is key in ensuring a safe working environment.
Those who are “vaccine hesitant” could be deemed to have genuine and reasonable personal concerns about the vaccine which hopefully can be addressed by engaging, educating them and encouraging them to reconsider. Their concerns might be due to their disability or religious beliefs, for example.
Employees who refuse to have the vaccine could be asked to make workplace adjustments to ensure they won’t come into contact with potentially vulnerable people.
If you need further support with Covid 19 response and risk assessments, or, assistance with any other HSE and risk management issues such as; crisis management, business continuity, HSE system development, implementation, review and audit, HSE legal compliance reviews or HSE Outsourcing. Please contact Corporate OHS on email@example.com, 971 52 566 0949 or visit our website www.corporateohs.com