At present there is no legal obligation for employers to pay for an employee’s time off for medical appointments including vaccinations. Some organisations will have specific employee policies in place to allow for this. However, it is expected that most employers will be flexible in enabling staff to avail of appointments given the vaccination roll out schedule.
In general, employers should consider the overall value to their employee as well as to the business of having as many employees vaccinated as possible. It is also important to consider the implications of providing that flexibility to attend appointments during working hours, including:
- Providing a safe working environment
- Promoting wellbeing and staff morale
- Presenting a positive brand message
- Ensuring full compliance with best practice
It is advisable for employers to consider the position they wish to take on this matter as the vaccination programme continues to build momentum each week. It is advisable to revisit a number of your policies and to make informed decisions that are aligned to your values and the overall culture of the organisation.
We recommend that you review the following policies in particular:
- Medical appointment or Personal time off
- Sick leave policy
- COVID-19 policies generally
- Flexible working terms
- Health & Safety policies
It may be a good time to introduce a vaccine policy to provide clarity and ensure decisions are based on fairness and equality in your organisation at this time. It may be that there will be a need for annual vaccination programmes over the next few years, so these kinds of policies and procedures become more relevant for employees including the access to onsite testing etc.