FirstCare data shows that Covid-related absences now last under 3 days on average - a dramatic reduction from 29 days in Q1 2020 - with most instances now owing to vaccination and recovery. But should employers be expected to shoulder that loss in productivity, or do employees have a responsibility to plan around the jab?
FirstCare’s Clinical Governance Officer, Suzanne Marshall RN believes it’s a bit of both:
“The vaccination programme is essential, and employers should strive to support staff in getting their vaccine however possible. To encourage employees to attend appointments, you may want to offer flexibility in working hours or arrangements during recovery, such as working from home.“However, like so many things, there needs to be give and take; while I would hope that employers would do their utmost to be flexible where necessary - supporting the health of employees and the health of their business through the vaccination programme - I also think it’s important for employees to be responsible and respectful of their work when planning their vaccination. They should strive wherever possible to avoid disruption, as they would with any other hospital or dental appointment.“There is an ever-growing number of vaccination centres offering appointment times outside of traditional office hours, as well as opportunities for people to access walk-in vaccinations, so it's easier than ever to ‘grab a jab’ at the individual’s convenience.”
To aid the vaccination uptake in their organisations, some companies such as Amazon, have chosen to incentivise employees to go and get vaccinated, and have even opened vaccination centres onsite.
ACAS goes so far as to suggest that employers might want to consider:
- paid time off for vaccination appointments
- paying staff their usual rate of pay if they're off sick with vaccine side effects, instead of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- not counting vaccine-related absences in absence records or towards any 'trigger' system the organisation may have
These decisions are, of course, down to each individual organisation.
Working days lost per Covid-related absence have plummeted from around 29 days in
Q1 2020 to under 3 days, with most instances now related to vaccination and recovery
Barriers to vaccination
Despite nearly 4 billion people worldwide having already been safely vaccinated, some people still feel a degree of hesitancy around getting the jab. This could be down to factors like needle phobia, caution around pregnancy, or misinformation.
It’s important to listen to people’s concerns with empathy, even if their feelings differ from yours. As an employer, it is particularly important that you support your staff’s wellbeing, as well as their physical health. The World Health Organisation has some helpful suggestions of how to talk about vaccination; encouraging confidence through conversation.
There are a significant number of myths circulating about COVID-19 vaccines, especially via social media. Don’t discourage people from asking questions, but direct those that you speak to towards trusted authoritative sources such as WHO, and the NHS for accurate and up-to-date information about vaccines.
- “The vaccines have been rushed through”
The Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK meet strict standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness. Many of the factors that might ordinarily slow down vaccine development (small teams of researchers, low budgets, few volunteers for clinical trials) did not apply in this case. There was worldwide collaboration in a race against the virus and some stages of development were able to safely co-occur.
- “The vaccine hasn’t been around long enough to know if it will affect my ability to fall pregnant”
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says: “There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on a woman’s fertility.”
- “The vaccines go against my beliefs because they contain animal products.”
The COVID-19 vaccines approved for the UK do not contain egg or animal products and are suitable for people of all faiths.
FirstCare's registered nurses have stayed up-to-the-minute with NHS guidance throughout the Covid pandemic,
covering everything from vaccination expectations to crucial advice on when to self-isolate and get tested.
FirstCare is well-placed to advise and support our members throughout the vaccination process.
During the pandemic, the advice provided to members by our registered nurses - including for vaccination and recovery - has been entirely consistent with that of the NHS.
The following links provide the best info for your employees on:
- what to expect at the vaccination appointment
- what side effects might be experienced and when to seek further advice