The Department of Employment and Labour recently released an Amended Consolidated Direction on Health and Safety measures in certain workplaces (GG No. 44700) which, amongst other things, permits an employer to make vaccination mandatory in its workplace, subject to certain guidelines.

Before deciding whether or not vaccination should be mandatory and/or implementing a mandatory vaccination policy, an employer must undergo a workplace risk assessment in which the operational requirements of the business is assessed and factors such as whether employees operate remotely, social distancing limitations and sensitivity measures in the workplace, the usage of PPE, and the prevalence of Covid-19 in the workplace, must be considered.

After the risk assessment has been done, the employer must develop a plan or amend an existing plan in which it outlines the protective measures it intends to implement in relation to employee’s in workplace (ie. social distancing measures and the usage of PPE), and, if the employer intends to make vaccination mandatory, develop a mandatory vaccination policy.

It is important to note that an employee has the right to refuse to be vaccinated on constitutional or medical grounds, and if the employee refuses on these grounds, the employer should counsel the employee on these issues, and, if necessary, attempt to accommodate the employee through measures other than vaccination.

It is also important to note that the drafting and implementation of a vaccination policy is complex and differs for each and every employer and should not be attempted or undertaken without legal advice.

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Ian McLaren
August 2021