What do employers need to consider for employees who wish to become volunteer vaccinators?

By Brabners LLP

11 Feb 2021

shutterstock_1865562334.jpg

Following on from our blog a few weeks ago regarding the controversial topic of whether employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine within the workplace – today we outline key considerations for employers regarding employees wanting to become volunteer vaccinators.

While employers may not wish to stand in the way of employees volunteering to support the nation in its efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, they do need to consider what impact, if any, this will have on their business.

There is no doubt that employees who wish to volunteer in public facing positions will be in close contact with numerous members of the community, increasing the risk of them personally contracting coronavirus. The NHS have stated that all volunteers will undergo training and be provided with supervision and personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and members of the public. However, this is unlikely to alleviate the risk of infection in its entirety. 

What do employers need to take into consideration before permitting employees to become volunteer vaccinators?

Time off for public duties:

First and foremost, employers should establish whether the employee proposes to volunteer in their own time, or during their working hours and if the latter, any impact that this would have on the business and the employee’s team.

Employers will need to consider any policies that they have in place for time off for public duties and any respective position on pay.

While some employees have the right under s50 Employment Rights Act 1996 to a reasonable period of unpaid time off during their working hours to carry out certain “public duties”, this right does not extend to all public duties.

As volunteers it is doubtful that this would fall within the legal definition for “public duties”, but the position will need to be checked, particularly if the work is deemed to be conducted on behalf of an NHS Trust.  

In any event, there would be no automatic right to pay and as such, you may wish to consult with the employees as to whether they would prefer to take annual leave, or with the employer’s consent, to take unpaid leave.

Health and Safety:

The central issue is that of any risks to the health and safety of colleagues, customers and contractors with whom the employee may come into contact with during their working hours, particularly in any public facing roles.

Albeit there is no legal duty to do so, we would recommend undertaking consultations with employees, customers and contractors regarding this topic, especially those who may be vulnerable or caring for the vulnerable, to maintain good industrial relations.

Employers should review and update any internal risk assessments, as well as requesting copies of risk assessments relating to voluntary positions and/or secure relevant information regarding the measures that will be put in place to protect the safety of the employee and those that they come into contact with.

Employers should also check with their insurance providers to ensure that the proposed scheme does not impact their insurance cover in the event that employees were to become infected and potentially cause an outbreak within the business.

Working Time Regulations 1998:

Whilst volunteering would not in itself count as “working time” for the purpose of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), employers should be mindful of any paid positions that employees take up outside of their working hours (which are also available to assist with the roll out of the vaccines) and whether these hours would, together with their normal working hours, exceed the 48-hour working week under the WTR.

If so, employers should keep clear records of the hours worked for both the employer and in any other positions, to ensure that they do not exceed the 48 hours.

Alternatively, employers could request the employee to sign a 48 hour opt out agreement, which can be withdrawn on notice at a later date. Please note that the employee must enter into the opt out agreement voluntarily in order for this to be enforceable.

Employees who are furloughed:

With the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 30 April 2021 and given that many businesses have been required to close under the third national lockdown, it is foreseeable that employees on furlough may wish to take up voluntary positions during this time.

The CJRS guidance states that employees can volunteer without any impact on their furloughed status, provided that the voluntary work is for a completely separate entity/organisation and does not provide any services to the employer.

If you have any questions regarding volunteers in your workplace or the impact of COVID-19 on your business generally, please contact a member of our Employment Team.

Latest news

1

Fit-out begins at hospital's new £1.5m annex Greater Lancashire Hospital Annex

Fit-out begins at hospital's new £1.5m annex

13 Jun 2024

2

Ribbon cut on Blackpool's £23m tramway extension Blackpool Tram Extension Launch

Ribbon cut on Blackpool's £23m tramway extension

13 Jun 2024

3

Pension firm announces service expansion for businesses Paul Rowe Pro Start Pensions

Pension firm announces service expansion for businesses

14 Jun 2024

4

Beautician turned businesswoman launches new training academy Lisa Gallagher Academy

Beautician turned businesswoman launches new training academy

14 Jun 2024

5

The fear of getting women's health in the workplace wrong symptoms.png.png

The fear of getting women's health in the workplace wrong

14 Jun 2024

Lbv116 Ltb Strip980
Background image for hub sign up block

LBV Hub

Reach 50,000 members of the Lancashire business community

Post your news
Post your events
Post your offers
Company profile
Social reach
Magazine coverage
Sign-up
Events
RISE - The Academy for Female Leaders and Managers
WENDY BOWERS RISE Illustrstion copy.jpg.jpg
LBV Hub Seminars
11 Jun 2024 - 04 Dec 2024

RISE - The Academy for Female Leaders and Managers

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, Clayton le Moors, BB5 5JR

09:00 - 16:30

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista
EVENT LISTING SIZING Vista.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
18 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista

Hampton by Hilton, 2 Frontier Ave, Blackburn, BB1 3AL

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour
EVENT LISTING SIZING Endeavour.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
18 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour

Oak Royal, Bury Lane, Chorley, PR6 8SW

06:30 - 08:30

Business Networking in Accrington - BNI Zeus
EVENT LISTING SIZING Zeus.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
19 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Accrington - BNI Zeus

The Mill House, Corn Mill Yard, Accrington, BB5 5HX

06:45 - 08:30

Free 4 Week Growth Ignition Coaching Programme
UCLan Primary logo RKE.png.png
LBV Hub Seminars
19 Jun 2024 - 03 Jul 2024

Free 4 Week Growth Ignition Coaching Programme

Online, Preston, PR1 2HE

12:00 - 13:30

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond
EVENT LISTING BNI Diamond.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
19 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond

The Marriot Hotel, Garstang Road, Broughton, PR3 5JB

07:15 - 09:00

Exclusive Free Event - An inspiring morning with Professor Paul McGee, The SUMO Guy
Paul McGee Event
LBV Hub Seminars
19 Jun 2024

Exclusive Free Event - An inspiring morning with Professor Paul McGee, The SUMO Guy

Village Hotel Blackpool , Blackpool , FY3 8LL

08:30 - 13:00

Bold Moves Mastermind - Procrastination to Profitable Pricing
BV Online Course Title pages (1).jpg.jpg
LBV Hub Seminars
19 Jun 2024

Bold Moves Mastermind - Procrastination to Profitable Pricing

Oswaldtwistle Mills Business & Conference Centre, Oswaldtwistle, BB5 0EY

09:30 - 12:30

Business Networking in Lancaster - BNI Castle
EVENT LISTING BNI Castle.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
20 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Lancaster - BNI Castle

Vale of Lune RUFC, Powder House Lane, Lancaster, LA1 2TT

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Burnley - BNI Kudos
EVENT LISTING BNI Kudos.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
20 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Burnley - BNI Kudos

Prairie Sports Village, Windemere Avenue, Burnley, BB10 2FU

06:45 - 08:30

THE ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS COMEDY DINNER SHOW
AbFab Social Post.jpg.jpg
LBV Hub Social
20 Jun 2024 - 20 Jun 2024

THE ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS COMEDY DINNER SHOW

Crow Wood Hotel & Spa Resort, Burnley, BB12 0RT

18:30 - 23:00

June Preston Freelancer Meet-Up and Coworking
Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 14.03.18.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
21 Jun 2024 - 21 Jun 2024

June Preston Freelancer Meet-Up and Coworking

Society1 Coworking Space, Preston, PR1 3LT

10:00 - 12:00

Advertise with us

Reaching 50,000 members, our print, digital and event platforms offer a fantastic way to raise your business profile and help you grow.

Find out more LBV116 Online Graphic
Subscribe now

Weekly news bulletin