Covid – 19 tests and vaccines
Can an employer require an employee to have a COVID- 19 test?
If an employee does not agree to take a COVID-19 test, an employer cannot force them to do so.
ACAS recommends that if an employer wants to test staff, they should consider discussing the following issues:
- How will the testing work;
- How will staff obtain their test results;
- What should staff do if they test positive for coronavirus;
- What pay will staff receive if they need to self-isolate but cannot work from home;
- How will the absence be treated under the employer’s absence procedures,
If staff are worried about testing because their pay will be affected if they receive a positive test, ACAS recommends that employers should consider:
- Paying staff their usual rate of pay if they need to take time off work after testing positive;
- Using the furlough scheme;
- Not counting related absences towards HR “trigger” points in absence procedures.
Can an employer require an employee to have a COVID- 19 vaccination?
Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety at work of their employees. Asking employees to agree to vaccination against COVID-19 is likely to be a reasonable step to take to reduce the risk to employees’ health. However, if employees do not agree to a vaccine, employers are limited in what they can do. ACAS recommends that employers should support staff in getting the COVID-19 vaccine and consider discussing the following issues with staff:
- The government’s latest vaccine health information;
- If staff will need time off work, what pay will they receive;
- Whether any staff might need to get the vaccine to be able to carry out their job.
To encourage staff to agree to have the vaccine ACAS recommends that employers might consider:
- Time off at full pay to attend vaccination appointments;
- Time off at full pay if an employee is off sick with vaccine side-effects;
- Discounting vaccine related absences under absence procedures.
If an employee does not want to be vaccinated, employers should listen to their concerns. Employers should be sensitive towards individual situations and keep any concerns confidential.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Data relating to tests and vaccines are special category data under GDPR and employers must comply with their GDPR obligations relating to the processing of such data. The ICO guidance states that employers are likely to be able to rely on their health and safety duties as a ground for processing special category data in these circumstances provided that limited data is collected, the collection and
processing of the data is necessary and proportionate and the data is kept secure.
(Partner/Head of Employment)
For further advice of any of the above changes or any employment related matters, please contact Claire Cole on 01905 726600 or email Claire.email@example.com
The contents of this article are for purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.