India: Companies Seek Guidance on Staff Refusing to Take COVID Vaccine

February 12, 2021

Companies operating in India are grappling with an emerging challenge, reports the Business Standard: how to deal with employees who refuse to take the vaccine when they come back to the office.

Companies are planning to approach the government through national industry associations requesting guidelines on this issue.  HR firms who advise clients, like TeamLease, say the approach will vary from company to company depending upon the nature of the job.

Where work can be performed remotely, there will be no change required.  For jobs that require working in proximity with other workers or customers, companies could mandate the vaccine for all employees.  For example, companies could make a health check-up mandatory before new employees can onboard.

Companies may wait for results of the first phase of vaccination, which will be known by March.  Many are exploring the possibility of buying vaccines in bulk for staff, once restrictions on selling to the private sector are lifted. 

While the government has made it clear that the choice of being vaccinated is voluntary, legal experts say firms may alter rules to protect their staff.  Many companies have been running operations for the past seven to eight months by following strict rules on social distancing, which has been effective.  Thus, while they will encourage factory workers to take the vaccine, they do not favor making it mandatory.

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