Can my employer demand I get the jab?
There have been questions over whether staff working for other firms could be required to get vaccinated. One employer, a London based plumbing company, has said it will require employees to be vaccinated, and may not keep on those who don’t comply.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said making new staff get vaccinated could, in theory, be possible if it was written into their contracts. However, he said it was unlikely employers could make existing workers have vaccines under their current contracts, unless the law was changed. In the absence of this, demanding that current staff be vaccinated would be unlawful in the “majority of circumstances”, according to an employment lawyer from a London law firm.
Businesses are not allowed to discriminate against people for reasons including disability, pregnancy and religious belief. Pregnant women are not generally recommended to have the vaccine unless they are at particular risk. And the vaccine isn’t suitable for people with some health conditions, including certain allergies and immune system problems.
Sarah Gilzean, a discrimination lawyer at Morton Fraser, agrees that such valid reasons for not having the jab could make it hard for employers to insist on vaccination. “In settings where there are alternatives like mass testing that are less intrusive, it’s going to be difficult for employers to justify that requirement,” she says.
What is a ‘vaccine passport’?
In the UK, anyone who has had a coronavirus injection receives a vaccination card, and the details go on their medical records. The UK is among countries considering whether to introduce other ways of recording people’s vaccination status. It’s been suggested a “vaccine passport” could be added to the NHS app. People could use it to prove they have been vaccinated, or have recently tested negative.
European officials have announced plans for an EU-wide “Green Digital Certificate”. This would allow anyone vaccinated against Covid, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel within the region. Officials hope it will be in place before the summer tourist season. However, some EU members have expressed concern the certificate could be discriminatory. In the UK, a petition asking the government not to introduce vaccine passports will be considered for a debate by MPs.
Could I need a vaccine passport to go out?
A government review, which is being led by Michael Gove, will also consider whether a vaccine passport could also be used to allow visitors entry to venues such as bars, theatres or sports stadiums. The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said it could be a way of getting people back to sports and other events in significant numbers. “We will be testing whether we can use Covid certification to help facilitate the return of sports,” he said, alongside the use of one-way systems and enhanced hand hygiene. The review is due to report before 21 June, the earliest date by which ministers hope most Covid measures can end.
Will I need a vaccine passport to go abroad?
Although foreign holidays are not currently allowed, the role of vaccine passports is being discussed. “If another country says you can’t come in unless you have the jab, then we want Brits to be able to demonstrate that,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
- Cyprus says Britons who have had two jabs can visit from 1 May without needing a negative test or to quarantine.
- Greece will admit Covid-negative Israeli tourists using its “green” digital vaccine certificate.
- Denmark and Sweden are developing vaccine passports.
- Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, says passengers on holidays or cruises must be fully vaccinated.
- Virgin Voyages and Royal Caribbean have said all cruise passengers and crew will need to be vaccinated.
- Australian airline Qantas says travellers will eventually need to prove they have had a vaccination.
- British Airways plans to let people register their status on a smartphone app.
Source: BBC News 23.03.2021