This policy was agreed by KLS Trustees on 23rd June 2021.
Updated on 14th September 2022.
This policy is reviewed every three years (or earlier if the law changes) – next update due September 2025.
Note: This policy should be read in conjunction with KLS’ Health & Safety Policy, KLS’ Conduct & Discipline Policy and KLS’ Data Protection Policy.
- About Katherine Low Settlement
Katherine Low Settlement is a charity that has been serving Battersea and the wider Wandsworth community since 1924. We are dedicated to building stronger communities and enable people to challenge and find ways out of poverty and isolation.
We run a range of our own community projects to support older people, refugee communities and children, young people and families. In addition to these direct services, we also use our premises to act as a local hub for other charities and community groups so that as partners, we can meet the diverse needs of the communities of Wandsworth. Each week we work with 45+ charities and community groups supporting more than 1,100 people. Visit www.klsettlement.org.uk
- Covid-19 Vaccination Policy
A vaccine to prevent serious health effects from Coronavirus has been developed and is being made available to the public under the Government’s national rollout programme. The efficacy and safety of the Covid-19 vaccine is now well-established. There is real world evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalisations and reducing adverse outcomes from Covid-19. Katherine Low Settlement must act to protect our members, staff and volunteers, which forms part of its duty of care. In doing so, we will be contributing to wider public health by protecting each other and the wider community by being vaccinated.
The purpose of this policy is to set out Katherine Low Settlement’s stance on the Covid-19 vaccine as it affects our members (otherwise known as clients or users), employees and volunteers.
This policy covers all KLS’ members, staff and volunteers. Other organisations renting rooms or office space in the building should have their own separate vaccination policy, which is aligned with KLS’s policy; as well as risk assessments and follow government guidance including social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.
The policy is endorsed by Katherine Low Settlement’s Trustees and will be reviewed regularly to make sure it remains relevant and appropriate to the needs of KLS and its members, staff and volunteers.
This Covid-19 Vaccination Policy is freely accessible to all. This means that KLS will share copies of this policy with staff and volunteers as part of their induction and training. All KLS’ policies will appear on its website. Hard copies of this policy will be available upon request.
- Vaccine status
Individual opinions on vaccines can vary greatly and we appreciate that having a vaccine is a personal choice, sometimes influenced by personal circumstances such as health.
- Our stance is pro-vaccine
As an employer, we have a duty of care to ensure the safety of our members, employees and volunteers (some of whom are clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable). In addition, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all their workers. Covid-19 is also a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (known as RIDDOR).
Despite extensive measures (including risk assessment, following government guidance including social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands; increased cleaning and cleaning stations around the building; installing protective screens; providing PPE etc.) taken to ensure that our workplace and our working arrangements are, and continue to be, Covid safe, the vaccine provides the greatest level of personal safety against serious illness, death, as well as reducing the transmission of the coronavirus to others.
KLS wants to ensure that all staff, members and volunteers are protected from the risks of catching the virus when carrying out their duties and has a duty of care to do so. KLS therefore encourages all our members, employees and volunteers to take up the opportunity to have the vaccine.
We expect our employees to be treated with dignity and respect by their colleagues in relation to their decision over the vaccine. The organisation will not accept any bullying or harassment, or other unwanted behaviour, against an employee because of their decision. The harassment or intimidation of colleagues because of their views or individual circumstances may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Any employee who is offended by, or concerned about, a colleague’s behaviour in this regard should raise the matter with management and/or can raise a formal complaint via our grievance procedure.
- Making an informed decision
It is normal that some of our employees may have concerns about having the vaccine. We encourage all of our workforce to make an informed decision by paying attention to official information sources such as the NHS. We would ask our employees to check the source of any information they read about the vaccine as we are aware that there is a certain amount of uncertified information available.
KLS has organised a session with the NHS about the vaccine; and shared information about the vaccine. KLS will help organise a one-to-one discussion with a medical professional about the vaccine if any of our members, employees or volunteers asks for it.
- Having the vaccine
A 1st, 2nd or 3rd dose of the Covid vaccine is available for anyone who wants it aged over 12 years old. Staff simply need to contact their GP and/or an accredited Covid vaccination centre to organise a date/time. The vaccine is offered free of charge. There is a 4th booster vaccination available but only for over 75s at the moment (accurate as of 14Sept22). This policy will be updated should any further changes be made by the government.
Employees should notify the Admin & Premises Manager at KLS, of their appointment time on each occasion, giving as much notice as possible if time off work is needed. Employees and volunteers must provide written evidence of the appointment date and time to their manager if time away from work is needed for an appointment. If vaccination boosters are required in the future, then again employees and volunteers should notify their line managers and the Admin & Premises Manager.
Records/data will be stored securely and accurately in line with GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, and KLS’ own Data Protection Policy, to reflect staff uptake/declines.
Employees are entitled to paid time off to attend a vaccine appointment. If needs be, KLS will pay reasonable travel costs associated with travelling to and from a vaccination centre/GP practice for employees.
When developing new frontline service delivery job roles, KLS will consider whether it is appropriate to ask potential new employees/volunteers for proof of vaccination as an essential requirement. If it is deemed essential then this will be stated clearly in job descriptions, job adverts and employment contracts.
Vaccination against infectious diseases is not mandatory under KLS’s policies, however by declining vaccination you may be putting yourself and others at risk.
- If an employee declines a vaccine
KLS recognise that there may be some staff who are unable to receive the vaccine because of:
- medical reasons (for example, those with extreme allergic reactions)
Whilst KLS encourages all staff to take up the vaccine we recognise that having the vaccine is not mandatory (compulsory) and will not take any negative action in regard to staff who have chosen to refuse the vaccine. A staff member wishing to refuse the Covid-19 vaccination will be required to sign a declaration to confirm they are aware of the risks of Covid-19 that may be acquired in the course of their work (appendix 1).
KLS does regard having the vaccine as a professional responsibility, where possible, because our work is to support people, who may include those who are clinically vulnerable from risks associated with coronavirus. KLS will respect the decisions of members who may request that they are only supported by staff who are vaccinated. This may be especially likely where a member is vulnerable or has been unable to take up the vaccine themselves.
In order to ensure that we can deliver support as safely as possible we will:
- keep a confidential record of staff vaccination status and review this decision when there is any new information provided that may assist staff.
- provide the NHS or other government agencies with anonymised data on the vaccination status of our workforce as requested.
- agree to provide/change support to members by staff/volunteers who are vaccinated where this is necessary to manage the risk of transmitting the virus.
For staff and volunteers who decline the vaccine, Katherine Low Settlement will consider how best to ensure those staff, volunteers and our members are safe at work. This will include (not exhaustive) ensuring measures such as:
- The appropriate PPE is in place and being used to ensure protection.
- That employees are aware of and following infection control standards (including PPE, handwashing and social distancing) and have undertaken appropriate training.
- That employees undertake regular covid testing (the frequency will depend on their role), and show proof of a negative test to their line manager before they enter the workplace.
- That employees and volunteers have an up-to-date risk assessment in place to identify their individual risks, as well as risks to our members, taking into account latest government and professional body advice.
Where risk to a member of staff, volunteer, or member is identified a conversation on job adjustments will be conducted. KLS will consider each case individually, listen to any reasons for refusing vaccination and, where needed, consider other Covid-19 secure and safe ways of working. Staff and volunteers could be moved into a less exposure prone setting as an option and/or alternative role, if appropriate and available. This may include (not exhaustive) work from home, back-office roles or unpaid leave until such a point risk is reduced/action has been taken to reduce risk. These conversations may require input from local trade union or HR representatives.
Any member of staff or volunteer who fails to follow this policy, will be subject to disciplinary proceedings under KLS’ Conduct & Discipline Policy.
Appendix 1: Covid-19 Vaccine Refusal Form
Within the context of supporting our members, vaccination of the workforce is a critical component of managing the Health and Safety of staff and volunteers at work and managing the risks to our members.
KLS is working with the NHS and GP practices to offer its staff, volunteers and members the Covid -19 vaccination.
I acknowledge that I am aware of the following:
- I understand that by not having the COVID-19 vaccination I may be at risk of contracting COVID-19 as a consequence of employment.
- I understand that by not having the COVID-19 vaccination I could spread the virus to others, including those most vulnerable.
I am choosing to refuse the COVID-19 vaccination for the following reasons:
I understand that I can arrange to have a vaccination if I change my mind at a later date.