One member of staff in our company is quite vocally anti-vaccine. Obviously he’s entitled to refuse them but, with the Covid jab now being rolled out and all over the news, he seems to take every opportunity to declare how ‘dangerous’ he thinks it is in front of his colleagues, and I’m concerned his opinions will start to influence the rest of the team. How can I encourage him to keep his decisions to himself without getting myself into hot water over discrimination?
With the alarming numbers of Covid cases and deaths being announced every day, it is understandable that people are anxious that the vaccine will bring an end to the pandemic and allow us to return to a ‘normal’ life. It is likely to take longer than many people expect because we need to have a high percentage of people vaccinated to keep the disease under control. We do not know what percentage we need for Covid – for measles the World Health Organization suggests about 95 per cent, for example.
There will always be some people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, but others are suspicious about vaccinations, and others may decline it for religious reasons. That may restrict their ability to travel or take up specific jobs, but it is their choice. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation spread via social media, so people may be making these decisions based on false information.
I can therefore understand your concern about your employee’s comments. I suggest you tell him that while he is entitled to his opinion, it is inappropriate for him to discuss this with his colleagues and that you are asking him not to do so. If he carries on, make it clear that if he continues he will be subject to disciplinary action for failure to follow a reasonable management instruction. Alternatively, you may prefer to ask the whole team not to discuss it because it is such an emotive subject. That way, you are not singling him out.