The COVID-19 Vaccine: What Opportunities And Challenges Will It Present To Employers

As the new COVID vaccines began to be rolled out around the UK, many people breathed a sigh of relief. The vaccines give us an end in sight to this difficult year, with the hopes of soon being able to say goodbye to social restrictions put in place due to COVID-19.

As an employer, you’ve probably seen first-hand the effects that the virus has had on your business. Maybe your staff are working from home, or perhaps you’ve had to write up a new social distancing plan for those who have to continue working on the frontlines.

With the vaccine’s distribution now moving onto those over 50 and a roadmap to ease lockdown being announced, it’s now almost time to get employees back in the workplace- should you wish to do so. Here are just some of the opportunities and challenges that the vaccine may present to your business:

Risk Assessment/ Health And Safety
As an employer, it is your duty to ensure the health, welfare and safety at work of all employees. When completing your COVID-19 risk assessment, it’s worth considering the impact that those who choose not to be vaccinated may have on your workforce.

To meet your health and safety duties, it’s best to strongly encourage all employees to be vaccinated, as a way of protecting not only themselves but their colleagues as well. Scientists are still currently looking into whether the vaccine can prevent the transmission of the virus, so this will be something to bear in mind for a later date.

A Mandatory Vaccine?
There has been talk of the possibility of a ‘vaccine passport’ being used in the workforce, but as it currently stands, UK citizens have a choice over whether to be vaccinated or not, and there’s no obligation for anybody in any job role to have the vaccination.

It’s also worth noting that a vaccine cannot offer total immunity to anybody- so when planning your employees’ return to work, it’s advisable to keep an open mind about the future.

What Else Can Employers Do?
Until the vaccine has been provided to most of the world, it’s advisable to continue with your work from home scheme. Even if the majority or all of your staff have been vaccinated, you should still keep COVID safety measures in place for the time being. You should be enforcing the latest social distancing rules and keep up a high standard of cleaning.

Many businesses are bringing in cleaning firms with specialist equipment to help eradicate the virus from their workforce. Ideal Cleaning use fogging machines to eliminate all but 0.0001% of bacteria, fungi, and viruses from commercial areas. You can click here to find out more information.

You should put together a list of all staff who have and haven’t been vaccinated, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. It is then up to you to decide which employees (if any) should continue to work from home.

Be mindful to not do anything which could deter people from having the vaccine. For example, if you propose to bring back only employees who have been vaccinated and allow the rest to continue to work from home, then this may cause people to have second thoughts about getting the vaccine if they prefer to work from home.

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