The facts: the employee worked in a care home providing personal care to the home’s residents. She refused to be vaccinated in January 2021 on the basis that a) she had had COVID19 and was immune b) the vaccine was unsafe and c) her religious beliefs (Rastafarianism) meant she could not be vaccinated. She was dismissed for gross misconduct – namely a failure to follow a reasonable management instruction. Please note the facts of this case took place before legislation took effect in November 2021 requiring vaccination for care home workers.
The decision: In all the circumstances, the employer’s decision to make vaccination mandatory for staff who were providing close personal care to vulnerable residents was a reasonable management instruction. The employee’s dismissal was therefore fair. Further, there was no interference with the employee’s human rights, namely, the right to a private life.
What do we learn? this decision is likely to be useful in determining whether an employer has acted reasonably in similar circumstances. It does not mean that refusing to be vaccinated will amount to gross misconduct, or even misconduct, in every case.
Of relevance in this case was that:
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