Supporting staff to get vaccinated
The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is available in England, Scotland and Wales through the NHS.
Employers should support staff in getting the COVID-19 vaccine once it's offered to them.
From 11 November, people working or volunteering in Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care homes in England must be vaccinated by law, unless exempt. Read our advice on care home vaccinations in England.
There's currently no other law that says people must have the vaccine. There may be some people who are advised not to have the vaccine, for example for health reasons.
There's a chance someone might still get or spread COVID-19 if they've had the vaccine. Even once people are vaccinated they must still follow guidelines for:
See government vaccine advice:
- in England – COVID-19 vaccines from the NHS
- in Scotland – COVID-19 vaccines from NHS inform Scotland
- in Wales – COVID-19 vaccination information from Public Health Wales
Talking to staff about getting vaccinated
Employers may find it useful to talk with their staff about the vaccine and share the benefits of being vaccinated. Employers should include recognised trade union or staff representatives in any discussions.
It could help to discuss things like:
- the government's latest vaccine health information
- how staff can access the vaccine
- if staff will need time off work to get vaccinated
- pay for time off work related to the vaccine
- whether the employer plans to collect data on staff vaccinations, and if so, how this will follow data protection law (UK GDPR)
- whether anyone needs to be vaccinated to be able to do their job, for example if they work in a CQC-registered care home in England or if it’s part of their employment contract
To encourage staff to get the vaccine, employers might consider:
- sharing government vaccine health information with staff
- offering paid time off for vaccination appointments
- paying staff their usual rate of pay if they're off sick with vaccine side effects, instead of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- not counting vaccine-related absences in absence records or towards any 'trigger' system the organisation may have
- arranging informal conversations during work time between staff who have had the vaccine and anyone who's not sure about getting it
Talking with staff can help:
- agree a vaccine policy that's appropriate for both staff and the organisation
- support staff to protect their health
- keep good working relationships
- avoid disputes in the future
If an employer wants staff to be vaccinated
It's best to support staff to get the vaccine without forcing them to.
If an employer feels it's important for staff to be vaccinated, they should talk together with staff or the organisation's recognised trade union to discuss what steps to take.
Any decision after that discussion should be put in writing, for example in a workplace policy. It must also be in line with the organisation's existing disciplinary and grievance policy and follow discrimination law.
It’s a good idea for the employer to get legal advice before bringing in a vaccine policy.
If someone does not want the vaccine
If someone does not want to be vaccinated, the employer should listen to their concerns.
Some people may have health reasons, for example if they will have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Employers should be sensitive towards personal situations and must keep any concerns confidential. They must be careful to avoid discrimination.
If someone is concerned about their health and the vaccine, they should talk to their doctor.
If someone must have the vaccine to carry out their job
In some cases, staff might need to be vaccinated to do their job. For example, if it’s part of the employment contract or someone works inside a CQC-registered care home in England.
Resolving an issue about getting the vaccine
If an employee or employer feels there's an issue, it's best to try and resolve it informally.
An employee or worker can raise a problem by talking with their:
- trade union representative, if they're a member of a trade union
- health and safety representative, if they have one
- employee representatives
If it cannot be resolved informally: