Can my Employer Make me get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccine bottle and syringe in the foreground with a row of blurred vaccine bottles in the background

An employer cannot make one of their employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine if they do not wish to. However, as a result of the UK Government’s vaccine mandates, many employers may be contemplating introducing measures – via clauses in contracts of employment or amending existing contracts – that require their workforce to be fully vaccinated. An employers’ reasons for introducing such measures could relate to protecting vulnerable staff members, themselves, visitors, or friends and family, or in an attempt to limit absences due to workers catching COVID-19 or staying at home and avoiding contact with others for at least five full days, under current Government guidance.

Should an employer introduce measures that require workers to be fully vaccinated and an employee still refuses, depending on the circumstances, it could result in the employee being redeployed to a different role, if possible, or they could, in some circumstances, be dismissed. How an employer handles such situations is something they need to give much consideration to before introducing a vaccination policy.

If an employer introduces a vaccine mandate for their workforce but an employee still refuses to be vaccinated based on the fact that they have a disability or as a result of a religious or philosophical belief, and the worker is then redeployed or dismissed, they could potentially face a discrimination claim from their worker as well as a claim for unfair dismissal. This will depend on the circumstances.  

Do I need to let my employer know if I am getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Unless your employer has a policy requiring you to notify them of vaccinations or procedures, then no. Although, if you need time off to attend appointments for vaccinations, you should arrange this in the normal way according to your employer’s code of practice. 

I am looking for work, will I have to tell prospective employers whether or not I have been vaccinated?

There is a general prohibition on employers asking prospective employees health-related questions, including disability (which in this case would include their vaccination records) except to the extent these are necessary, for example, to find out if any reasonable adjustments are required for interview. Although, there are limited exceptions to this that could apply to sectors and job roles where there is a particular health and safety reason, meaning the employer needs to know whether you’ve been vaccinated or not and needs to determine your ability to carry out the role. 

Next steps

Take a look at the resource available from the NHS on the COVID-19 Vaccination below to guide you in more detail.

Part of
Last Updated
13 July 2022
First Published
02 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.