Last reviewed 24 August 2021

New research by Acas has found that a quarter of British employers have not been giving their staff paid time off for Covid-19 vaccinations and have no plans to do so in the future.

Furthermore, a similar percentage are refusing to provide full company sick pay to staff who are off work sick due to vaccine side effects.

On the plus side, the arbitration service found that 59% have been giving staff paid time off while 4% have not been doing it but plan to do so.

Its advice is that employers should support staff to get the vaccine once it is offered to them. This support could include ensuring employees have paid time off for Covid-19 vaccine reasons.

Acas Chief Executive Susan Clews said: “It’s in businesses best interests to have a vaccine policy that supports staff to take time off as fully vaccinated workers are less likely to need longer periods of time off work to recover from Covid-19.”

To support staff to get the vaccine, Acas advice is that employers may want to consider paid time off for vaccination appointments and paying staff their usual rate of pay if they are off sick with vaccine side effects.

While some organisations may have a review or “trigger” point to keep track of sickness absence for their staff, employers could consider not counting vaccine-related time off sick as part of this absence record system, Acas suggests.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

It would seem logical that employers who want their employees to have the vaccine so that they can protect themselves and colleagues against serious illness should make it as easy as possible for them to get it.

Having to try to fit in an appointment around working hours can be tricky and employers should not underestimate the financial impact that losing a couple of hours’ pay to attend an appointment can have on some workers.

Employers should balance the immediate impact of paying employees for their appointment absence against possible long Covid-related absences in the future.