Q: I am 28 so have not yet been offered a covid vaccination, but I know when I am that I will not want it, and I also know that my employer will expect me to have it. I do not like needles or the idea of having chemicals pumped into me when I am not ill. The big question is, could my employer get rid of me if I refuse the vaccine? Wouldn’t an ultimatum of get vaccinated or get the sack be contravening my employee rights? I only started with the firm at the end of 2019 so I don’t think I would be able to go to a tribunal and bring a case of unfair dismissal.
A: If your employer dismissed you for refusing to have the Covid vaccination it would depend on certain circumstances as to whether it constituted a case of unfair dismissal. The circumstances to be considered would relate to the job you do, how the job is carried out and why you refused the vaccine. The question then would be whether, given all those circumstances together, your dismissal was fair and reasonable. As there is not yet any case law on dismissal due to Covid related reasons it is difficult to say what the outcome would be, but clearly some industry bosses will have stronger arguments than others for requiring employees to get vaccinated.
With regard to you having worked in your current job for less than two years, whilst you would not generally have the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal it is still possible to claim discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal, irrespective of length of service. Having said all of that, perhaps you should also reconsider the benefits – to you and to others more vulnerable than you – of having the vaccine when you are invited to do so?
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