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NHS Flu vaccinations, GMB Statement


NHS England will once again be encouraging all health care staff with direct patient contact to have the flu vaccination.

The GMB supports NHS England in that our members should be vaccinated in order to reduce the risks of spreading infections to the people they care for, as well as protecting themselves. Vaccinations are just one way to reduce the impact of flu on the NHS. However, we fully support our members choice on this issue and would never agree to it becoming mandatory.

NHS Chief Executives should be working in partnership with your GMB trade union representatives to develop and agree a workplace flu vaccination strategy. As a GMB member, your reps will be working to ensure you get the appropriate advice, support and protection that you need.

All NHS staff have a right to make their own choice about whether or not to be vaccinated, without fear of being pressurised or bullied. Staff should be protected from any detriment as a result of refusing to be vaccinated.

GMB members with concerns about any of the above should speak immediately with your local GMB Rep. Listed below are a few concerns which have already been raised with the GMB. However, this list is not exhaustive and you should speak with your local GMB rep for further advice if you have concerns.

• Record of Refusals
Your employer is required to keep a record of staff refusals to be vaccinated. The GMB supports this requirement to collect anonymised data on the reasons individuals have refused the vaccination. Such data is completely confidential and can be invaluable in collecting intelligence on some of the barriers to receiving the vaccine and inform future annual flu campaigns.

• Changes to Contract
GMB does not support mandatory flu vaccinations and recognise that there are many reasons why you may refuse to be vaccinated. If your contract does not expressly state that you are obliged to have an annual flu vaccine, and depending upon your own individual circumstances, it may not be a reasonable management instruction for you to participate in this scheme. If your employer suggests that your contract is amended to include a vaccination requirement clause, this would be a contractual change that would require consultation and notice before any such proposed amendments were made.

Your employer may choose to redeploy staff working in high risk areas who do not have the vaccine. Conversely, staff who have had the vaccine who work in lower risk areas may be moved to cover gaps in high risk areas.

GMB believes that any such redeployment should be without detriment to your employment rights; including pay, terms and conditions and working arrangements. The period of redeployment must be temporary and specified in length, with assurances given that staff have the right to return to the substantive job at the end of the defined period.

It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure they have enough staff, with the right skills and experience to provide a safe and high-quality service for current and future patients.

• Bullying and harassment by managers

GMB have been made aware previously of some organisation’s acting in a bullying way to pressurise staff to be vaccinated.

All staff who refuse to be vaccinated should be treated with dignity and resorting to bullying and harassment is unacceptable, may be a breach of health and safety regulations, employment rights and has the risk of back firing by decreasing the moral of the workforce.

GMB members should report any bullying behaviours to your local GMB representative.

• Sickness Absence
Your employer is not lawfully allowed to withhold sick pay from unvaccinated staff who then take sick leave as a result of flu. There is no such provision in the NHS national terms and conditions of service and contractual sick pay provisions should apply as normal. However, unvaccinated staff may find it difficult to claim injury allowance for flu if they believe their illness was contracted in the course of their work.

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Posted: 3rd October 2018

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