Testing and vaccinating employees – ACAS Guidance
ACAS has recently published new guidance for employers concerning COVID-19. This contains advice as to the ways in which employers can both support their workforce to get tested regularly for COVID-19 and encourage them to take up the offer of a vaccination from the NHS. The guidance can be found at:
The guidance relating to vaccinations highlights the need for employers to be flexible and ensure so far as possible that, when an employee is called for their vaccine appointment, they will be able to attend it.
Suggested measures include allowing employees time off for their vaccine and not using vaccine-related absences as a trigger point for disciplinary procedures.
ACAS also encourages employers to open a dialogue with staff about the measures it proposes to introduce to support employees with taking the vaccine and how these will be implemented.
The guidance on testing comes in the wake of free lateral flow coronavirus tests being made available to employers with more than 50 employees (who cannot work from home). ACAS recommends that employers consult with employees and ensure policies on testing are incorporated into the standard workplace handbook.
Suggested measures for alleviating concerns employees may have about the effect a positive test may have on their income/record include: paying employees full pay if they are required to self-isolate following a positive test; making use of the furlough scheme; and not counting time off due to positive tests within overall sickness absence records.
Whilst this guidance does acknowledge the likelihood that some employers may want to make it a mandatory condition of employment for employees to be vaccinated, it stops short of commenting on the legality of such a move. Instead, it merely suggests that most employers will merely want to encourage staff testing and vaccine take up rather than making it compulsory.