The Vaccination Conundrum

As Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme progresses steadily, a question remains for employers: can employees be required to be fully vaccinated before returning to the workplace?

The Government’s view has been made clear; that is, persons above the age of 12 should ideally be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, mandatory vaccination is not permissible in Ireland as there is no legal basis for such. Further, individuals’ personal rights are protected by the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Vaccination can be encouraged by employers, however. This could mean offering information, bonuses and incentives to staff and facilitating leave for employees to attend vaccination appointments.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 places an obligation on employers to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees in the workplace. Employers must identify and monitor possible risks to their staff members. The potential for transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace is an obvious risk that must be monitored but can be offset by taking other risk reduction measures such as ensuring adequate ventilation and social distancing, and the provision of hand sanitiser, face masks and safety screens.

Employers can find guidance on safety measures and vaccinations within the Government’s Work Safely Protocol.

KEY CONTACTS

O'Loghlin Hughes Sinead O'Loghlin Managing Partner

Sinéad O’Loghlin

MANAGING PARTNER

O'Loghlin Hughes Tom Carney Partner

Tom Carney

PARTNER