On the 19 April, Employment Partner Danielle Ayres took part in a panel on Pregnancy and COVID, hosted by Labour and Co-op MP Stella Creasy and local charity Pregnant then Screwed. The panel included various professionals both medical and Danielle providing the legal element, to discuss the topic and how the vaccine affects pregnancy and those that may be breastfeeding.  To view the full session click here.

Whether an employer can oblige employees to be vaccinated has gathered significant attention over the past few months.  There is currently no legal obligation to have the vaccination, and the Government guidance in this area, and the advice on the Health and Safety Executive’s website, do not state that employees should be vaccinated in order to make workplace COVID-secure, meaning employers cannot force their employees to have the vaccination and, employers should be aware of the risks, not least of discrimination claims, if they seek to influence their employees to have the vaccine

A big question surrounding the COVID vaccination is whether it is safe for those trying to become, or are currently, pregnant.  Research to date does not indicate any safety concern or harm to pregnant women.

Employers could attempt to argue that requiring staff to be vaccinated is a means of ensuring the health and safety of staff, clients, service users and visitors, however, this would depend on the nature of the work being undertaken and whether other measures could be put in place prior to insisting that employees are vaccinated, such as social-distancing, hand washing, or whether employees could continue to carry out their duties from home.

It is possible that employers’ actions could constitute discrimination by requiring employees to be vaccinated, or by treating them less favourably because they do not wish to, or cannot, have the vaccine.  These issues need to be considered before making any decisions in relation to mandatory vaccination policies.

Employment Partner, Danielle Ayres commented “I am not convinced that employers duties and obligations under the current health and safety legislation is enough to enable them to insist on employees to be vaccinated, given that this would be imposing a medical procedure upon them.  Each case would need to be considered on the specific facts, what the employee does as a job, whether they come into contact with vulnerable people, if there are any other measures that can be put in place first.”

To discuss any of the above in further detail or to find out more information about your specific discrimination, please contact the Gorvins workplace discrimination lawyers team today on 0161 930 5151 or send us an e-mail to employmentteam@gorvins.com. Alternatively, you can contact us using our handy online form.

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