Can I be dismissed for refusal of the vaccine?

February 15th, 2022

Since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, all adults have now been given the option to receive it, with some having their ‘booster jab’ in recent months. Although receiving the vaccine is a choice, some workplaces are now implementing the ‘no jab, no job’ policy that looks to dismiss employees that remain unvaccinated.

The Government had previously announced that vaccinations were mandatory for all health and social care workers, including frontline NHS workers, from April 1st 2022, before revoking this rule for a number of reasons.

An example in the workplace

In January 2021, Ms Allette worked as a care assistant in a nursing home that provided support for those with dementia. Through her own choice, Ms Allete opted not to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and as a result of this, one of the directors had a conversation with her about her reluctance to be vaccinated. She believed the vaccine to be unsafe and “rushed through” without going through proper testing before being rolled out.

A month prior to this, a number of staff and residents in the home had contracted COVID meaning they had to delay their first dose of the vaccine. As a result of the outbreak in the home, some residents sadly died and many of the staff were infected – including Ms Allette.

With the rescheduled first dose of vaccines coming to the care home, Ms Allette still showed reluctance to receive a vaccination. Following this refusal, the director informed her that the following day she would be suspended, pending disciplinary action.

This continued on until Ms Allette attended a disciplinary meeting to explain why she was not willing to abide by a management instruction. The end result of this was Ms Allette being dismissed for gross misconduct as she had failed to comply with a reasonable management request. Although she had appealed this on a number of grounds, these were rejected following a full re-hearing of the facts.

Can I be dismissed/fired for refusing to have the vaccine?

There is not a simple yes or no answer. The law in England says that care home staff and volunteers must be vaccinated in order to work within the residential homes, aside from this, there are currently no other laws that state staff must have the vaccine.

Employers do have obligations to keep the best interest of their staff at heart when it comes to protecting their health and wellbeing within the workplace and in some instances employers may strongly encourage staff to be vaccinated in an attempt to keep others safe.

Enforcing mandatory vaccination within a workplace is a risk as it could be perceived as going against individual human rights. This does depend on an individual’s personal situation and beliefs, including those who for health reasons may be exempt from receiving the vaccine, or advised by health officials not to receive it. In cases like this, it is wise for employers to encourage their staff to be vaccinated, rather than trying to force them to have a vaccination.

Talk to us

As an experienced employment team, we know how and where to obtain information to support your case and assist you. Find out more about our employment services here.

If you have any concerns or questions on your employee rights and are unsure on where you stand with your employer, please contact our team today by filling out the form below or you can call us on 023 9298 1000