Oct 09,2021 | 5 min read

Can Companies Mandate Vaccine to their employees In India?

While the rest of the globe is fighting Covid, India is fighting to keep positive numbers low and its population out of hospitals. COVISHIELD, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and COVAXIN, created by Bharat Biotech, have both been authorized by India. In India, the vaccination campaign was implemented in three phases, with priority given to health care personnel and frontline workers in phase I, elderly citizens and vulnerable citizens in phase II, and all citizens over 18 years of age in phase III. 

There is currently no law requiring businesses to give paid time off to employees who are scheduled to receive the vaccine. Employers, on the other hand, are always encouraged to encourage their employees to be vaccinated. Employers might require employees to submit a vaccination certificate as proof of their right to paid time off.

Many countries are claiming that they are leading in the covid-19 vaccination race hoping to return to normal times, India is one of them. However new cases occur from time to time because of new variants and waves of covid-19. Many countries restrict public places such as cinema halls, colleges, and offices to people who are not vaccinated. 

Countries such as Turkey, Italy, France mandate the vaccine for the health workers and other groups who get exposed to coronavirus frequently, and the US, UK, Australia made laws on mandatory vaccination. However, this legislation does not force anyone to get vaccinated against their will. Now the Indian government announced that employers all across the country should now look forward to getting their employees vaccinated so that workplaces become safer and avoid any loss of life. 

Employers are responsible to provide a safe working environment for the employees and protect the health of those they serve. In India, there has not been any government rule or permitting companies to mandate vaccination. The government of India kept the vaccination process voluntarily. Employers can not make vaccination mandatory for the employee. Although employers can not mandate vaccination for employees, they can educate them about the vaccination to promote a healthy workplace. The employer can also put down the terms and conditions for the new employees in their contract to submit their vaccination certificate as a mandatory document so that the employer can protect their customers and already vaccinated employees. Employers can offer incentives to the employees who voluntarily get vaccinated.

Employers may ask for the vaccination status but should not ask about why they are not vaccinated. The vaccination status document or vaccination certificate falls under the category of the medical record which is confidential medical information as per section 3 of the information technology rules 2011. Therefore the employer should have the express consent of the employee before submitting the vaccination certificate. Employers should not be very strict while submitting vaccine certificates as a document of entry in the workplace for employees who can provide reasonable proof for their denial of the vaccine because still there is not much evidence and sufficient studies about who should or who should not take the covid-19 vaccines. 

If the vaccination is mandatory by the employer and after that employee gets a side effect from the vaccine it is more likely that the employee can file the case for their medical expense. In India vaccination is a voluntary decision and mandate by the company for the purpose of visiting the workspace or office and if the employee before the court proves that the vaccination is mandated by the employer and the employee had no other choice, this could bring the liability on the employer. 

Many people are worried about being exposed to the covid-19 and still are doing their job from home. If companies assure them that their company has effective measures and employees are getting vaccinated they are more likely to return to the office or workspace or take jobs in the company. There is sufficient data and studies available that vaccinated employees can reduce the amount of risk at workplace exposure to the covid-19. 

Any type of relief from an employer is always an ethical and welcomed move at this difficult period. Employers might refund their workers' vaccination fees upon submission of a vaccination certificate in order to encourage them. This would encourage employees at the bottom of the corporate ladder, who are the backbone of any company's workforce, to be vaccinated.


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