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Forcing swine flu vaccinations on staff could be a legal minefield for employers


Employers planning mass swine flu vaccinations for staff have been warned this could lead staff to make legal claims against them.

With mounting fears of a second wave of swine flu occurring this autumn, some employers have started making plans to vaccinate their workforce.

But, according to law firm Pinsent Masons, employers that try to force all staff to take any form of swine flu medication, by telling them they cannot return to work unless they accept it, could face claims from staff with pre-existing medical conditions who feel they cannot take it.

Richard Turner, an employment specialist at Pinsent Masons, believes employers taking a hard line on swine flu may not reap the benefits from it they are hoping for.

He added: "Employers may take the view that if they inoculate staff they will cut down on absences, or at least they will know that anybody who does take time off - having been vaccinated - must be malingering. This does not automatically follow.

"Employers are exposing themselves to claims if they take disciplinary action against an absent employee without hard evidence the illness is not genuine.

"If we do face a severe outbreak - particularly if the Department of Health goes ahead with proposals to increase the self-certification period to two weeks - employees may be simply unable to get confirmation from their GP that their illness is genuine."