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This last few days in Early Years has been what I can only describe as a rollercoaster of emotions. Early on Thursday morning my Facebook timeline was ‘alight’ with the welcome news that early years employees may be eligible to be vaccinated immediately. This was due to the Government having updated the professions table and now included nursery nurses and nursery managers as social care workers. However by Friday the Early Years Alliance, PACEY and NDNA in a rare joint statement clarified that the position had not changed. Nursery staff were not eligible to be vaccinated before they were called in line with the JCVI priority list. In the meantime, many nurseries had managed to book their staff in for vaccines on Friday and Saturday. Some went ahead, some were turned away on arrival.

So why do day nurseries, pre-schools and out of school clubs need to have a Coronavirus Vaccine Policy? 

Well, if not now, the vaccines are coming!

When the vaccines reach individuals of working age, employers of these individuals will do well to consider how they will approach this mass vaccination event.

Our Coronavirus Vaccine Policy includes:

  1. Your position on vaccines. Employers need to take a position on the vaccine. If we are to encourage eligible employees to take the vaccine when offered. You can’t and shouldn’t make it a case of no jab, no job, and individuals right to choose must be respected.
  2. What happens if an individuals right to choose is not respected. We all can think of people who might bully or harass someone who doesn’t share their point of view. Again employers need to set out their position as what an employee should do if they feel their right to choose is not being respected.
  3. How any time off for vaccines will be treated? Employers should treat employees fairly and equally. It’s a good idea to set out in advance what your expectation will be when these vaccines are booked. Can individuals attend in working time and if so what notice do you require. Will any time lost need to be made up, will it be paid, unpaid, or come from any TOIL owed. How long will be given for the travel to and from the vaccination centre?
  4. What will happen if the employee experiences an adverse reaction to the vaccine. How will any time off following the vaccine be treated.

So what will change if your staff are vaccinated?

At the moment we think very little. Will staff still have to self isolate if there is a positive case in their bubble. Yes we think so. The vaccine we understand gives protection from developing severe illness, we do not know what level of protection the vaccine gives against transmission of the virus, but the first signs look promising. You will still need to keep in place your current COVID secure protocols and there should no reduction in the high standards of health and safety that you have set.

We do not think that vaccination will immediately mean that staff who are CEV can return to work, however this surely has to be the vision.

We do not understand that pregnant employees are recommended to receive the vaccine, equally we understand breast feeding mothers may not be encouraged. This group has the right not to suffer any detriment due to their protected characteristic. Therefore it is important that employers only encourage eligible employees to receive the vaccine and that encouragement is not seen by your employees as an instruction.  Employees who are hesitant can be encouraged to read the Government’s guidance on the vaccine and its efficacy. It is known that there are many myths going around regarding the vaccine, particularly on social media. (I would particularly like clarification as to whether alcohol should be avoided after the vaccine!)

Will I be able to dismiss someone in the future for refusing to be vaccinated?

We do not know. However my view is that it is doubtful that employers will win employment tribunals for unfair dismissal in the future. Especially where the reason for the dismissal is a refusal to be vaccinated. Remember the Government aren’t making it mandatory.

To buy our Coronavirus Vaccine Policy go to BUY HERE.