This is likely to be a difficult subject. However I see various employers struggling with this – on whether to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some lawsuits from employees who feel “coerced” to take the vaccine have been filed around the world (click HERE and HERE), but so far it seems that such lawsuits have no legal standing.
So rather than the avoid the subject I believe it would be much wiser for employers to actually draw up a vaccination policy. There have been various articles from employers who where sued and I hereby bring you some of the principles they used on which they set their vaccination policies, which also stood the legal test.
The common good principle: In developing a vaccination policy, the main principle that needs to be adhered to is the prioitisation of the health and safety of everyone. Upon evaluating whether requiring that your employees be vaccinated, would affect your employees right to autonomy — their right to make their own decisions without interference from others – the conclusion should be that an individual’s right to autonomy ends when his or her actions would harm others. Many employers who were sued commented that they decided that death from Covid-19, was an irreversible harm and a requirement to get vaccinated was the best way to ensure that their employees did not pose harm to clients and other employees
Get input from professional experts: Many employers need to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of vaccination versus no vaccination. Critically, this analysis must be performed by subject-matter experts who can accurately assess the situation. If one where to read the real scientific evidence out there, one would conclude that on one hand, the main COVID-19 vaccinations approved in Europe are all extremely effective whilst these vaccines are incredibly safe. More than 2.1 billion doses have been administered around the world under heavy scrutiny from researchers, governments, and watchdog organisations. One real-world study of 627,383 fully vaccinated individuals reported an even lower rate of side effects than seen in the previous clinical trials, with fewer than one in four experiencing symptoms, most commonly headache, fever, and fatigue. Serious adverse events — those that cause or extend hospitalisation or result in persistent disability or death — have been rare. In contrast, Covid-19 has killed more than 3.9 million people, according to the official tally of the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, as many as one-third of Covid-19 patients experience significant health problems after they’ve had the disease; these include cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, dermatologic, neurologic, and autoimmune effects. Add to that the fact that vaccinated employees are far less likely to risk infecting their customers or each other, thus reducing social and economic harm across the community. So please get an expert in the field, consult with him and her and do a risk-based analysis based on real scientific facts.
Handle exemptions in a way that is consistent with public health recommendations and the law: Any vaccination policy needs includes thoughtful policies that accommodate employees with medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs inconsistent with vaccination. It is also important that vaccination policies are aligned with the laws. However, to ensure everyone’s safety those granted a temporary or permanent exemption must be clearly given the conditions they need to adhere too going forward. These could include undergoing COVID-19 testing on a specified regular basis, wearing face masks at all times and maintaining a social distance at work at all time.
Educate and Combat Misinformation: Rather than dodge the subject, employers have a moral duty to educate employees on the risk and benefits of vaccination versus non-vaccination. Also explain in a transparent way the the process employed to create the vaccination policy. Employers should make an extra effort to listen to the concerns of employees who are hesitant to be vaccinated and address their concerns. This to make sure that employers combat and counteract misinformation, by continually sharing updated scientific information and proactively identify and correct misinformation. It is very likely that employees will greatly appreciate this transparent communication.
Lead by example: It is crucial for employees to see business owners and managers getting vaccinated for the vaccination policy to stand any chance of success.
Monitor the vaccination rates: Check who is vaccinated and who is not over time, so that you could take the required action according to the same policy, whilst addressing issues and dealing with legitimate exemptions.
I sense that many employers feel that dodging the question as to who from their employees is vaccinated or not, is a safer way of dealing with this. I disagree. Experience shows that hiding skeletons in the cupboard only serve to haunt you back. My advice is to seek help and be transparent and setup a clear vaccination policy for all.