Are employers obliged to offer private vaccines for staff once these become available?
No, there will be no obligation for employers to offer private vaccines, however it may become an option for employers to pay for vaccines privately should they choose to. According to current research, it is likely that repeat vaccination will be needed, as it is not certain how long immunity lasts after the initial vaccine. There is the potential that, at some point, private vaccination could be offered as a regular work benefit (like the flu vaccine). However, this is likely to take some time and employers do not have to decide whether to offer private vaccines at this moment in time. It is also important to bear in mind that not all employee’s will want the vaccination, private or otherwise.
As an employer, what do I need to be aware of regarding Covid status vaccine certification?
COVID status certification indicates a person’s vaccine status to show they are at reduced risk of transmission; this system can include vaccination details or a recent negative test. Proof of natural immunity after having COVID-19 may also be included. The proposals surrounding the use of certification have certainly caused political divisions. A vaccine certificate, initially used primarily for travel, called the NHS COVID Pass, was introduced on 17 May 2021. Employers may need to adapt their systems and return-to-work processes may need to involve updating such systems so that employers can risk assess the return to the workplace, taking into account both physical measures and mental wellbeing. Employers will need to make their own decisions about asking for proof of vaccination balancing the potential discrimination and data protection risks.