Lawyers Say Equality Act 2010 Potentially Provides Protection
Employment lawyers are warning that care home operators could face claims for indirect discrimination as a result of Government plans to make it compulsory for all staff to have the COVID vaccination.
The Government announced this week that after a five week consultation exercise, it had decided to make COVID vaccinations compulsory for staff at care homes in England
However, according to lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, big questions remain about what employers can do if workers object to the vaccine on religious or other protected grounds.
Expert Opinion“It’s not entirely clear how the government intends to deal with the issue of workers who refuse the jab on based on their religious or philosophical beliefs.
“There are a small number of religious groups that disapprove of vaccinations because they believe they ‘interfere with divine providence’. Other groups, such as vegans, may disapprove of the vaccine because animal products were used in their development.
“There are also an increasingly number of vocal ‘anti vaxxers’ who subscribe to a number of different beliefs about the dangers of being vaccinated. It’s possible that some of these may also be protected.
“Care homes may face discrimination claims from some members of staff.
“To defend these care home operators will need to show that they have a legitimate aim, which in this case would be protecting vulnerable people, and there are no other less discriminatory ways in which you can achieve that aim such as wearing PPE.
“It will be possible for them to say that they’re following the law, but it’s more difficult to say at the moment whether or not that will be enough to defeat an employment tribunal claim.”
Danielle Parsons - Partner