FIS has been asked a number of times about whether it is acceptable to either mandate employees to have the vaccination or to ask whether workers, in the face of potential issues with self-isolation, have been vaccinated in order to support their ongoing risk management. This question has taken on particular significance now that across the UK your vaccination status impacts self-isolation rules.
The simple answer is that it is not recommended that an employer attempts to mandate vaccination. Vaccination policies pose risks that either the policy itself is unreasonable or the enforcement of it in relation to a particular employee is unreasonable. If employees have over two years service, imposing this requirement could lead to potential claims for constructive or ordinary unfair dismissal. There is also a risk of potential discrimination claims such as from pregnant and younger employees, objections on the grounds of religion or belief, or serious underlying medical conditions.
Some countries have taken a far harder line e.g. Germany are making vaccination mandatory, Denmark and Italy have gone down the requirement for corona work passes and Austria have onerous lockdown requirements specific to the unvaccinated. Given the UK government has not advised that vaccination is a necessary requirement to establishing a COVID safe work environment, a compulsory policy would have to be based on a robust risk assessment which has identified that vaccination is a necessary control which cannot be achieved through alternative measures.
Another question asked is whether you can request new applicants for roles are vaccinated. Again this is an area to tread with caution as it could open an employer up to a claim of discrimination on a number of fronts such as disability, pregnancy, religion or belief and age. Any policy along these lines would need to be justifiable and carefully caveated.
You can ask your workforce about vaccination status, but this is also heavily caveated. As with holding any personal information you need to be clear why you are asking and looking to hold the information, what you intend to do with the information and be clear in terms of policy on what would happen if someone did not wish to share that information.