People challenges as a result of the coronavirus vaccine Part 2: How can I encourage staff to have the vaccine?

James Richardson | 29 March 2021

People challenges as a result of the coronavirus vaccine Part 2: How can I encourage staff to have the vaccine?

Our HR team continue to consider the implications of the vaccine and discuss what steps can be taken to encourage employee uptake.

Due to the risks we discussed in our previous article – Can I make employees get the COVID-19 vaccination? – it is advisable for employers to consider carefully the real impact staff being fully vaccinated will have for their business before making and proceeding with any such decision.

We would recommend that employers ensure they have considered all the alternatives before considering a divisive policy to enforce immunisation on staff. Part of this will mean working with staff to encourage voluntary uptake of the vaccination and to help ensure the percentage of vaccinated employees in your organisation is as high as possible.

In order to encourage staff uptake and maximise on the offer of being vaccinated, you can:

  • Help educate staff about the advantages and disadvantages of the vaccination. You can do so via signposting staff to relevant sources, including information on your intranet or discussing in staff meetings.
  • Be as flexible as possible to allow staff to attend vaccination appointments. For example, by encouraging flexible working, making sure that staff are able to make the time back or allowing paid leave will help to make obtaining the vaccine easier for your employees.
  • Remind staff of the benefits, whilst being realistic that having the vaccination does not mean social distancing and other restrictions can be done away with (vaccinated individuals will still be able to carry and spread the virus).
  • Encouraging staff to notify you of their successful vaccination via staff surveys, or anonymous intranet forms. This can be useful for planning exercises and help to keep you fully informed of your workforce’s immunisation coverage.
  • You may wish to explore incentivising staff if you feel strongly about the vaccination programme. This could involve social motivation by asking staff to share pictures of them getting the vaccination, or by providing a charitable scheme that every staff vaccination will lead to small donation.
  • If you would like to provide a clear policy, you can implement one asking all employees, who reasonably can, to ensure they are immunised as soon as possible – the wording of any policy would need to be careful so as to avoid the risks discussed in our previous article.

It is unlikely that full workforce immunisation is going to be a substitution for tried and tested control measures. Employers will need to work with staff to ensure appropriate measures are in place to reduce the risk as much as possible; by taking steps to maintain a safe workplace and establishing a safe system of work in order to achieve a COVID-Secure workplace.

Taking the stance that employees must be vaccinated before returning to work is risky. However, it is good practice to position yourself in a way which does not deter staff from being vaccinated and highlights that you are putting staff welfare at the forefront of your activities.

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