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Can Employers Make Employees Get a Covid-19 Vaccine?

12 January 2021 by Crystal HR & Payroll Ltd

Can Employers Make an Employee Get a Covid-19 Vaccine?


Person Getting Vaccinated


With the first vaccines being rolled out in December, we started to get asked if the employer could require their employees to get the vaccine and we are getting more questions around this subject, so we decided to write this article.

In short, employers should support staff in getting the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, but they can not require staff to be vaccinated if they don’t want to be vaccinated.

While this is a controversial subject, we feel employers may find it useful to talk with their employees about the vaccine and share the benefits of being vaccinated with their employees.


For advice about the vaccine:

in England, see coronavirus vaccine information from the NHS

in Scotland, see coronavirus vaccine information on NHS inform

in Wales, see coronavirus vaccine information on Public Health Wales


What happens if my employee does not want to be vaccinated?

If an employee does not want to be vaccinated, the employer should listen to their concerns, be sensitive towards individual situations and keep any concerns confidential, again discussing the benefits of being vaccinated with the employee.

Some employees may have health concerns, for example allergies, or, some employees may be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. For example, if someone is pregnant. You can find out more about discrimination and the law, here

Employees should talk to their doctor if they’re concerned about their health and getting the vaccine.


Are there any reasons for it to be necessary for an employee to be vaccinated?

An employer may decide it’s necessary for staff to be vaccinated, which should only be the case if getting the vaccine is required for someone to do their job such as if staff travel to other countries for work and need vaccinations.

If an employer decides it’s necessary, they should agree it with the employees concerned or the workplace’s recognised trade union if there is one.

The agreement should be put in writing, for example in a workplace policy.


Disciplinary action

If an employer believes someone’s reason for refusing the vaccine is unreasonable, in some situations it could result in a disciplinary procedure and this should be viewed on a case-by-case basis, however it will depend on if it’s the workplace’s policy to be vaccinated and necessary for someone to do their job.

An employer must consider someone’s reason for not wanting the vaccine which could be protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010. For example, if they are pregnant. Find out more about discrimination and the law.


What to do if employees believe their employer is being unreasonable

If an employee or worker believes their employer is being unreasonable in deciding it is necessary for them to get the coronavirus vaccine, they should try and resolve the problem informally by talking with their:

  • employer
  • health and safety representative, if they have one
  • trade union representative, if they’re a member of a trade union

If the issue can not be resolved informally, staff can raise a problem formally which is known as ‘raising a grievance’.

For help on this or any other employment issue, contact us today to see how we can help or call 0800 093 8612.

Article correct as at 12th January 2021.


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