Legal experts have stated that staff will be able to return to work even if they refuse the Covid-19 vaccine. Staff will also not be required to disclose their vaccination status to employers or colleagues.
As employees have the right to reject medical treatment, companies will not be able to segregate those who refuse the vaccine.
As companies want to create a safe working environment, which will vary from business to business, it is expected that employee’s rights and the company’s rights to create a safe environment will collide as there is no specific legislation or further government guidance on the matter.
Senior Associate at McCann FitzGerald Donal Hamilton has called for government guidance on vaccinations and the return to work while stating, “It’s a voluntary decision of each employee whether or not they decide to take the vaccine, that essentially reflects the legal position,”.
Hamilton added that the data protection rights will come into play if an employer asks their employees if they have received the vaccine while stating “all of these need to be considered.”
In the case of a mandatory vaccine workplace, Hamilton states that the balance is still in the employee’s favour. Partner at the legal firm Whitney Moore ‘Emma Richmond’ stated that the segregation of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees will be legally unworkable.
If not possible to provide a safe place of work, one idea suggests that businesses could consider relocating unvaccinated employees to a separate part of an office but this also brings a heap of legal issues where there is a risk of discrimination claims and potential infringement of constitutional rights.