Vaccines and Voluntarism in the workplace
In the second episode of the HRUnpacked podcast, Dr Jonathan Lord tackles the issue of mandatory vaccinations in the workplace.
The podcast is available now
Dr Lord of the University of Salford Business School, along with Kate Palmer of the Peninsula HR consultancy, has advice for business owners and workplace managers who are concerned about how to handle vaccinations, given the high level of distrust and opposition to vaccination among the population. This is discussed in more detail on the podcast itself.
Dr Lord said: “Employers, by law, have a 'duty of care' for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace where they must do all they reasonably can to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of people at work as well as consult staff on any decisions that involve health and safety, complete a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to prevent harm. As there has been an increase in remote working it is also advisable to note that employers and employees have responsibilities for health, safety and wellbeing for those staff who are working from home and other locations.
“The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 obliges employers to take reasonable steps to reduce any workplace risks which gives employers justification for encouraging their employees to be vaccinated and accept offers of boosters to protect themselves and everyone else at the workplace. COVID-19 is also a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (known as RIDDOR) which strengthens employers’ encouragement that employees should agree to vaccination.
“Employers should therefore focus on their own staff, customers products / services offered and risk assess what is in the best interest of all stakeholders. The government have realised that having a ‘one size fits all’ policy cannot work and are advising organisations to follow sector and regulatory guidelines, ensuring staff are safe in the workplace.
“Employers should encourage staff to have the vaccine through adopting a vaccination policy as well as undertaking individual risk assessments. Ways of encouragement involve running awareness campaigns, drawing on updated NHS information utilising initiatives such as the ‘NHS COVID Behaviour Change Unit’ helping present a more powerful and persuasive case for vaccination and boosters. Employers can also seek alternatives such as offering incentives to vaccination as well as regular lateral flow testing.”
To manage this issue in the workplace, employers can:
- Ensure line managers are aware of organisational policy and approach.
- Offer employees consistent, accessible and factual safety data which promotes the genuine achievement of science in producing an effective vaccine.
- Consider counteracting misinformation and conspiracy theory spread through social media. The education programme may promote the merits of vaccines in general, and the COVID vaccines specifically.
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