Covid Passports (or Vaccine Passports) have become somewhat of a contentious subject. In this month’s blog, we’re going to look into what they are, what they mean for business, and how they’ll affect the workplace.
So, what are they?
Vaccine Passports, simply put, are proof of your vaccine status. This includes proof of the specific vaccine you have taken, for what virus, how many doses you’ve had, and when. There are many reasons to hold a vaccine passport, for example: When you are travelling abroad, when you are entering certain venues, or when working with vulnerable people.
Currently, the UK government is granting citizens an NHS COVID Pass. This is a pass which indicates your level of vaccination against the coronavirus.
Why are they so divisive?
Hundreds of thousands of protesters across the globe have taken to the streets to protest COVID passports – But why? Some protestors fear discrimination based on their vaccination status that may affect their ability to earn. Some protestors fear the consequences of a relatively new vaccine on their long-term health. Others rail against what they perceive to be government encroaching on their right to choose. Whatever the reason, it appears that the concerns are non-partisan.
How can I get one?
If you’re interested in getting the NHS COVID Pass to be safe, you can visit the NHS website here. You can get a digital or paper version, with the following requirements:
For travelling abroad, you need to have had 1 to 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine accessible in the UK or have had a positive PCR test within the past 6 months. The latter requires you wait up to 180 days after the test to claim your pass.
For domestic events, you need to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine accessible in the UK. Alternatively, a negative PCR test within the past 6 months, or a negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test within the past 2 days.
Do I need one?
Vaccine Passports are most applicable when travelling abroad or accessing certain venues. Proving you have had the correct vaccinations or inoculations has been an important part of international travel for decades. COVID-19 is no different. For example, countries like India require travellers be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and Typhoid; COVID-19 may just be another on the list. If your job requires international travel, then a COVID-19 vaccination pass is essential.
For domestic events, venues may require you show proof of vaccination status to attend events or enter venues. This is up to the venue’s discretion.
But what about for work?
Can An Employer Demand I Be Vaccinated?
For most of us, the answer is no. In our previous blog, we talked a little about employers insisting on employees being vaccinated. Let’s just recap.
Everyone working in a private business is protected against mandatory workplace vaccines by section 8 of the human rights code by the European Convention on Human Rights. Our adherence to this rule may change in the future.
This is somewhat different in public sector areas due to the restrictions placed on this right. For example, vaccinations may be required work in public sector positions due to the virus being deemed a threat to national security, public safety, and the economy. Employers and policy makers in these areas need to demonstrate that interfering with your rights under section 8 is lawful, necessary, and proportionate.
Human Resource Policies
Requiring, or introducing Vaccine Passports within the workplace runs the risk of ostracizing a section of your workforce. Employers run the risk of segmenting their workforce into the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated. This can create a social rift, lower morale, and lower cooperation and productivity. From an HR perspective, employers must consider the cost to their efficiency and staff health before making unnecessary requirements of them.
Employers must also ensure they, and the rest of their staff, do not unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their medical status. This can come in the form of indirect exclusion or the facilitation of a hostile work environment by vaccinated members of staff. The likelihood of a reasonable excuse to discriminate against non-vaccinated staff is greatly diminished if the workspace is COVID secure.
Health & Safety Policies
One positive benefit of the pandemic is that it has given many business owners food for thought in terms of H&S. Many companies have had to review their current Health & Safety practices and address issues in order to combat the spread of the virus.
Businesses need to determine whether their need for Vaccine Passports is really necessary. Strict procedure and policy around cleanliness and social distancing will reduce the risk, so why require a vaccination passport? Businesses may have other issues undermining their Health & Safety that have gone unnoticed due to the focus on the pandemic.
If you’re concerned about Covid in the workplace or need help figuring out your policies, you can contact us through our online form, or on: 0330 400 5490.
We also provide a great number of training courses for Health & Safety, these include subjects in Personal Safety, Autism Awareness, Workplace H&S, Electrical Safety, Safe Handling of Medicines, and Stroke Awareness.
Digital marketer and content writer.