EMPLOYERS have been warned about the risk they could face legal action amid the complex issues triggered by the return of large numbers of people to work in coming months.

Graham Millar, employment law partner at Gilson Gray, said: “An employer has a moral and legal duty of care to ensure that employees, customers and visitors to its premises are safe. There are many reasonable steps they can take to ensure this is the case, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic.”

He added: “However, employers also have a duty to ensure that employees are not treated unfairly for any reason, such as their choice not to be vaccinated against Covid-19. This is likely to create a very tricky line for employers, and the contradiction will likely see many difficult conversations and potential tribunal claims over the coming months.”

Mr Millar noted that as the law stands, unless there is specific contractual provision, employers cannot exclude someone from the workplace for refusing the vaccine. He said employers should positively encourage employees to take the vaccine and take all steps possible to minimise the risk of transfer ahead of reopening their premises.

“Undertaking rigorous and regular risk assessments will be vital to ascertain what precautions are needed as these are the areas that will be scrutinised by a tribunal,” said Mr Millar.