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Is 'No Jab, No Job' really up to businesses to decide?

Nadhim Zahawi MP, the UK government's minister in charge of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, stated in an interview with the BBC on 17 February that it is "up to businesses to decide" whether to require staff to be inoculated against COVID. However, his statement needs careful scrutiny, as a blanket requirement to have all staff vaccinated could lead to unlawful discrimination.

When the Minister says that it is up to businesses to decide, what should be made clear is that employers should first consider whether there are any reasons related to a protected characteristic which might prevent an employee receiving a vaccination. The most obvious which springs to mind is pregnancy, as it is not recommended that expectant mothers receive the vaccine. Or there could be reasons related to a disability which would contraindicate an employee being vaccinated.  Or an employee may have religious reasons for not taking up the vaccine. To make it mandatory for all staff to be vaccinated could potentially lead to a tribunal claim, so employers must give due consideration to the individual circumstances of all their staff.

If you need any advice on this or other employment matters then please contact Robin Williams.