The information below was last updated on 4th March 2022
Please contact your local HR Dept for advice on how the below information might apply to your business.
Q: Do I need to give workers paid time off to go for a test?
It is no longer required to take a PCR test because a positive Lateral Flow Test suffices. There are exceptions so if any of your workers fall into these categories then it is best practice to allow paid time off for this although it is not a statutory right.
Certain groups will still require a confirmatory PCR following a positive LFD result:
- People who wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment. To claim the Test and Trace Support Payment, you must have tested positive for COVID-19 following a PCR test or an assisted LFD test.
- People who have received an email or letter from the NHS because of a health condition that means they may be suitable for new COVID-19 treatments. This applies when they develop any COVID-19 symptoms, and they should use the PCR test kit that was sent to them in the post for this purpose. If they have not received a PCR test kit they can arrange to have a PCR test.
- People who are taking LFD tests as part of research or surveillance programmes, and the programme asks them to take a follow-up PCR test.
- People who have a positive day 2 LFD test result after they arrive in England.
Q: Do I have to allow employees time off during working hours to receive a vaccination?
No you don’t but if you want to encourage your employees to be vaccinated then we advise that you allow the time off. You can choose whether or not you want to pay for the time off.
The exception to this is if your contract or handbook includes any rules around time off for medical appointments.
Q: I want to know whether or not my employees are vaccinated – is that ok?
Maybe, but be cautious. Have a look at the Information Commissioner’s Office for guidance.
You need a legal basis for storing such data. We strongly recommend that you obtain health and safety advice on this point before you ask your employees for this information.
From 15th March there is no longer a requirement for mandatory vaccination in any workplace setting, it is rare that a business would have reason to ask their staff this question.
Q: If an employee is using their unvaccinated status as a reason not to attend work, what do I do?
Ask them what their concern is. If they can have the vaccination but are choosing not to do so then you can insist that they attend the workplace as normal as it is their choice not to receive the vaccination.
If they intend to be vaccinated and have appointments booked then you can agree an interim arrangement until they are fully vaccinated.
If they cannot be vaccinated because of a medical exemption (ie allergy to a vaccination ingredient) then carry out a risk assessment and put measures in place that will make them feel confident to attend the workplace. In these situations, you must treat it on a case-by-case basis as not everyone will have the same concern so individual risk assessment is important to ensure that the individual employee feels confident that they are as safe as possible in the workplace.
Q: Do employees who have been vaccinated still need to be tested?
Yes. A vaccinated person can still contract and transmit COVID-19 so they should follow the same protocols as an unvaccinated person.
Q. Do I have to keep proof of vaccination status?
If someone is saying that they don’t need to self-isolate because they have been fully vaccinated, then you can ask to see the evidence from the app or the paper version, and then you can allow them back in the workplace. You don’t need to take a copy. You can just note that you’ve seen the evidence so they can continue to work.
Q: I want all my employees to be vaccinated – can I insist on it?
It is unlikely that you will have good enough reason to insist on mandatory vaccinations for your employees. Legally, you risk potential discrimination claims which will depend on the individuals’ reason for not being vaccinated so tread very carefully. Talk to us if you would like to discuss this further.
Q: Can I add a clause to my employment contracts that all new employees must be vaccinated?
No, there is no mandate for any employees to be vaccinated.
Q: Should we have a vaccination policy?
It would only be appropriate in rare circumstances and this is a complex area so please contact your local HR Dept for advice if you think that this is something that applies to your business or industry.
Q: I have an employee who is vaccinated who has said that they don’t want to sit in the same office as anyone who is unvaccinated, how do I handle this?
Sit with the employee who is concerned and talk through your risk assessment which will hopefully assure them of their safety. Signposting to reliable sources of information about how the vaccination can also transmit COVID-19 might help to emphasise the importance of everyone’s responsibility in the workplace to maintain appropriate COVID protocols.
Q: How do we deal with vaccination debates at work?
You should recognise that this is an incredibly emotive subject and has the potential to be divisive in the workplace so you might consider a policy that employees don’t discuss vaccinations or enquire about their colleagues’ vaccination status.
Q: If an employee says that the vaccination is against their religion or against their belief, what do we do?
This is a complicated area of law, so please take advice from your local HR Dept office.
You may risk a discrimination claim if you dismiss someone who refused to be vaccinated on the grounds of religion or belief, so please talk to us.
Q: If someone doesn’t want to be vaccinated because they are anti-vaccination, how do we deal with that?
From 15th March there is no longer a mandate requiring anyone to be vaccinated so you must not put any pressure and you should avoid debates around this topic as it can be so emotive.
Managing absence and ill-health
Q: How do we treat an employee who phones in sick after getting the vaccination?
You would treat them the same way as any other sickness absence so follow your absence policy. If you don’t have one, contact your local HR Dept office for advice. If the employee has COVID symptoms, they should isolate until they have a negative PCR test.
Q: My employee says they are at a higher risk of blood clots so doesn’t want the vaccination – what do we do?
Advise the employee to speak to their GP and leave the employee to make their own decision – it’s not something an employer should be attempting to influence.
Q: What if we told our employees to get vaccinated and someone suffers vaccine damage?
If you are making the vaccination mandatory, then we would advise that you contact your insurers to obtain the appropriate cover. Note that from 15th March there is no longer mandatory vaccinations so you would have to have an incredibly strong business case to insist on vaccination. The vaccine damage payment scheme covers COVID-19 vaccine damage claims so you could direct any affected employee to the payment scheme.
NHS COVID pass
Q: Can we ask employees to demonstrate their COVID status using the NHS Covid pass?
In England, yes the NHS Covid pass can be used for any fully vaccinated adult, any adult who has tested negative in the previous 48 hours or any adult who has natural immunity because they have had a positive PCR test in the last 6 months.
Q: What if I have an employee who doesn’t want to use the NHS COVID pass?
If they are exempt from vaccination or testing, then they may not use it and could self-declare their condition in terms of their symptoms.
Care homes and NHS
Q: What are the changes to care homes and NHS in terms of vaccinations in England?
Vaccination for Covid-19 became mandatory in England on 11th November 2021 for Care Homes, and it was due to become mandatory for NHS front-line staff in April. However, these mandates will be revoked in March 2022. This means that there is no longer a requirement to insist that employees in these industries are vaccinated.
Do you run a business and have a HR question about coronavirus?
The HR Dept provide outsourced HR support to employers. If you are an employee we would suggest that you contact Acas.
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