close

RIDOUTS WEBINAR: Providers warned of legal risks of ‘jab for job’ contracts

Gemma II

Care homes have been warned of the legal risks of imposing mandatory vaccinations on staff through changes to their contracts.

Speaking during a Ridouts Webinar yesterday, solicitor, Gemma Nicholas (pictured), said a ‘jab for job’ contract could violate the Public Health Control of Disease Act 1984 which stops individuals being forced to undergo medical treatment, including vaccinations.

Gemma advised care home providers to “think carefully about vaccinations policies” and avoid introducing “blanket policies”.

Story continues below
Advertisement

The solicitor said staff who are dismissed by providers for refusing vaccines purely out of choice could claim unfair or constructive dismissal or discrimination.

In their defence, employees could claim they are acting on their duties to employees and service users under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which requires businesses to ensure a safe workplace and environment, and to take reasonable steps to reduce workplace risks.

“The requirement to get vaccinated could be deemed a reasonable management instruction refusal which could amount to a fair reason for dismissal,” Gemma said.

However, she added constructive dismissal could be claimed if employees feel forced or pressurised into having a vaccination.

The solicitor added that staff citing reasons such as allergies, pregnancy or religious beliefs, for refusing vaccination could be protected under the Equality Act 2010.

“It may be better to persuade rather than compel staff to get a vaccination by appealing to their hearts and minds, seeking to understand why they are reluctant and what their reservations are; responding with empathy and providing factual information and addressing the issue of fake news with regard to the vaccine and encouraging staff to make their own informed decisions about whether to be vaccinated or not,” Gemma said.

“Until the issue has gone before a court or tribunal no-one can provide a firm answer on whether a discrimination or unfair dismissal claim can be successful in cases where there has been a refusal to have the vaccine.”

Tags : Legal AdviceRidouts
mm

The author Lee Peart

3 Comments

  1. I think it’s right that all carers should be vaccinated because it was them that took the virus in to the care home as no one was allowed to go in and see there loved ones and if they refuse the vaccine should not be allowed to work at the home

  2. “Until the issue goes before a court or a tribunal… “ illustrates difference in the time scale :
    Legal units of time are based units of months and often years and in every day care , filling a duty rota requires a far more immediate decision.
    The advice to persuade is clearly an obvious route – but what then? What is the next step on receiving a “No”?

    The individual :
    Vaccination is certainly a personal choice as it affects the individual ,
    However there is another factor.. Vaccine refusers or doubters seem to express their views in the “first person singular” “I” think, “My” choice/ rights etc.
    This lacks the more altruistic view of many other care staff for whom a major driver is the safety and well being of others – the people they care for and -and also their colleagues.
    The Care Home :
    They have a duty of care towards the residents – and the staff.
    In the event of a catastrophic infection in the home, would the fact that the home had allowed unvaccinated staff to attend very vulnerable residents and that the outbreak was shown to be directly traceable to the unvaccinated staff would they be deemed to have failed in their duty of care ? and if so, could they even face the prospect of corporate manslaughter.?
    If the only reason they had allowed this to happen was because they had been “advised “that the individual might threaten to take them to industrial tribunal – would this, realistically, be any sort of defence?
    Would not the staff member ( perhaps assuaging guilt ) now say they were not properly advised or should have been fully counselled about vaccination and if they had been so advised they would have been vaccinated ?

    Relatives who have been excluded for so long and who will taken the opportunity to be “ altruistically “ vaccinated before entering a home will not be easy to face in the coroners court on hearing their dearest died from Covid infection acquired via an un vaccinated staff member .

Leave a Response