Can pub operators make Covid vaccines mandatory for staff?

By Nikkie Thatcher contact

- Last updated on GMT

Vaccine time: Brewhouse & Kitchen is giving employees paid time off to receive their Covid jab (image: Getty/Chaz Bharj)
Vaccine time: Brewhouse & Kitchen is giving employees paid time off to receive their Covid jab (image: Getty/Chaz Bharj)

Related tags: Health and safety, coronavirus, vaccine, Brewhouse and Kitchen, Star pubs & bars

With almost two thirds (64%) of the UK population now having been a first dose of the coronavirus jab, we take a look at the legal rules around staff and vaccines.

Workplace law expert Acas states there is currently no law to say people must have the vaccine, even if employers would prefer teams to have it.

At present, there has been a change to the law for anyone who works in a care home as the Government plans to introduce care home workers must have the vaccine later this year.

Acas advised employers should support staff to get the vaccine without forcing them to. If bosses want staff vaccinated, it is advised they should talk with staff or the company’s trade union to discuss the steps to take.

Any decision should be put in writing such as a workplace policy and it must be in line with an existing disciplinary and grievance policy.

Should a team member not want to get the vaccine, pub bosses should listen to their concerns and be sensitive towards personal situations while keeping any worries confidential.

Many unknowns

In February, commercial law firm Howes Percival advised employers against a ‘no jab’ no job’ policy in the workplace.

Partner and employment law expert Simon deMaid said: “While the need for vaccination policies in the workplace may seem premature, the expected trajectory of the vaccination rollout will lead to more instances of employers asking for or even requiring employees to receive the vaccine.

“There are still many unknowns about Covid-19 and the vaccinations. Depending on the science, wide-scale vaccination may not be an all-encompassing solution for a return to ‘normality’ or a pre-Covid workplace environment.

“The vaccines have been shown to be effective at reducing or eliminating symptoms and effects of Covid-19, what is less known is the extent to which they prevent transmission (although the early data is encouraging) or the period of immunity.

“This raises concerns about the feasibility of employers requiring vaccination, and highlights questions about the effectiveness of these policies in reducing risk to employers, employees and customers.”

Support ongoing efforts

Multiple operator Brewhouse & Kitchen has launched ‘vaccine time’ where employees will be paid for the time out to get their vaccination.

Chief executive Kris Gumbrell said: “While the company is not mandating the jab, we are encouraging the team to book their vaccination as soon as they can, to support ongoing efforts to protect all team members, guests, combat the virus and unlock the economy.

“The company will also pay for any team members who choose to have the flu jab this autumn. Brewhouse & Kitchen encourages other companies to do the same to protect our teams, our communities and give hospitality the best chance of recovery.”

Large pubco Star Pubs & Bars has permitted staff to leave work to get their vaccine, if required.

A spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic, our focus has been on the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues who have shown great resilience in supporting our customers through the most challenging trading conditions we’ve seen in generations.

“Our 2,300 Heineken colleagues are encouraged and allowed to take time off to receive their vaccinations and many continue to support their communities including volunteering to help the NHS and other local charities.”

Related topics: Health & safety

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