Can No Jab Mean No Job?

Reading Time: 4 mins

Many people are worried about their employment rights regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. We reached out to Amanda Hamilton, Chief Executive of the non-profit National Association of Licensed Paralegals, to help explain your rights and potential issues around refusing the vaccine.

There is no law in UK which requires mandatory vaccination, as much as some anti-vaxxers claim otherwise. The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 devolves powers to Parliament to legislate in order to protect UK Citizens. The law enables Parliament to intervene in an emergency situation, such as the pandemic, and impose lockdowns and restrictions to protect citizens, but it cannot impose mandatory vaccinations. In other words, there is no power to make vaccinations mandatory.

This creates a plethora of issues, from human rights to equality, and balances them against the rights of others to be safe in their workplace. In addition, it raises issues around the possible criminal implications of forcing someone to be vaccinated against their will.

  1. Potential Criminal Implications
  2. Human Rights and Equality
  3. Can an Employee Be Dismissed for Refusing the Vaccine?
  4. A Safe Environment for Others
  5. A Reasonable Solution
  6. Does an Employee Have to Tell Their Employer?
  7. More Legal Articles

Potential Criminal Implications

Potential criminal implications of forcing a Covid-19 vaccine

The Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 s20 states that an unlawful wounding would occur if a person were forced to have a vaccination against their will. A wound means ‘a break of the skin’. This statute still remains in force today.

Human Rights and Equality

Compulsory medical treatment or testing is contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights meaning that it is a human right to refuse medical treatment if you wish to do so. Refusing medical treatment could be because of deeply held religious or other beliefs, and this brings into play the Equality Act 2010. This statute states an individual is protected from discrimination from nine possible characteristics including: age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex.

So, an employer cannot force an employee to be vaccinated.

Can an Employee Be Dismissed for Refusing the Vaccine?

The short answer is no. If they were, then it would amount to an unfair dismissal and the employee could justifiably take the employer to an employment tribunal for discrimination. The case would be brought under the Equality Act 2010 in that the claimant’s refusal to be vaccinated is founded on a fundamental belief or on religious grounds. It would of course, be for the claimant to prove that she/he has such beliefs.

The situation would be the same if the claimant felt that they were being victimised, because of their belief, to such an extent that they felt that they could not continue being in the employ of the employer, and consequently, resigned. This would amount to constructive dismissal. The result being the same as if the employer had dismissed the employee – an employment tribunal case could ensue for unfair dismissal.

A Safe Environment for Others

Can an employee refuse the Covid-19 vaccine?

So how can an employer manage such a situation if there is a statutory duty to provide a safe environment for employees in the workplace? The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 places the responsibility on employers to protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ at work of all employees and includes others on the premises such as temps, contractors and visitors.

This appears to be in contradiction to the premise that it is an individual’s right to refuse the vaccine. The only way to manage this is to impose certain guidelines on employees such as those we are all asked to follow during the current pandemic, e.g. social distancing, mask wearing and sanitising/hand washing etc.

Of course, all this does depend on job that an employee is employed to do. For example, working in an office environment, following government guidelines may work reasonably well. However, if the employee that is refusing to accept the vaccine is working in social care or in medical care with vulnerable patients, then the standards may change. Being on the front line in such a situation may well mean that refusal to be vaccinated may place those who have not yet been vaccinated (perhaps due to age, medical conditions, or access), as well as themselves, at risk.

A Reasonable Solution

In these circumstances, it may be prudent to find alternative work for the employee until it is safe for them to return. A reasonable solution such as this should be acceptable to an employee.

If the employee doesn’t find it acceptable, they might bring an unfair dismissal case against the employer on the basis of discrimination. A Tribunal hearing such a case weighs up the rights of the employee to refuse the vaccine, taking into account the nature of their work, the alternatives offered, and how many others would be put at risk. In other words, they would look at the situation and apply a test of reasonability.

Does an Employee Have to Tell an Employer?

If the employer can demonstrate that asking staff to be vaccinated is a reasonable management instruction, then asking them for this information will also be reasonable. However, just as you can’t force them to be vaccinated, you also can’t force them to reveal their vaccination status.

Again, equality laws will come into play if there is a risk that revealing their vaccination status will result in discrimination within the workplace.

If they do agree to tell, then this will constitute sensitive personal health data and the organisation will need to comply with GDPR. The same applies to information about who has not been vaccinated and why.

The best policy is one of clear communication. Employers should explain why they’d like staff to be vaccinated and why they’d like the information about their status. An employer should give the opportunity to discuss this privately and look at ways to mitigate the risks and offer alternative working options. This way, as an employer, you have done your best to provide the right working environment, have kept staff informed and engaged in the process and ultimately reduced the chances of a successful Tribunal claim, should it unfortunately come to that.

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Working abroad After Brexit: Visas and Taxes Explained

Reading Time: 7 mins

Working abroad after Brexit will change now that the UK has left the European Union. There are currently three quarters of a million British expats living in the EU.

You may still be interested in joining the near one million Brits in the EU despite Brexit. But before you jet off to seek another lifestyle, you’ll need to understand all the new visa and tax requirements. If you’ve already read the rules and found them confusing, then you’re in luck. Here at Money Magpie, we’ve put together an seven-step guide to give you all the information you need.

  1. Who Needs a Visa?
  2. Where to Find Visa Information
  3. Entertainment Visas
  4. Countries That Have Digital Nomad Visas
  5. Where Do You Pay Tax
  6. Your Benefit Entitlement
  7. Your State Pension

Who needs a visa?

You don't need a visa after Brexit for some holidays in 2021 - but will for 2022

Those who’ve planned a holiday to the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland in 2021 will be relieved to know that you won’t need a visa. Although, coronavirus restrictions may scupper holiday plans. Keep an eye on the Foreign Office official advice. And, if you’re taking a risk to book ahead – make sure you get travel insurance the same time you book in case the pandemic ruins your plans!

From the 1st January 2022, UK holidaymakers seeking sun and sites in the EU will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System). An ETIAS is a three-year visa waiver that will cost £6.35 for those three years. Travellers will be encouraged to apply online. You’ll be required to provide information such as your age, past criminal convictions, and your accommodation address when applying.

UK residents will only be able to spend 90 out of 180 days on holiday in Europe. You may want to stay in the EU for longer, which means you’ll need a visa.

You’ll also need a visa if you’re working abroad after Brexit. In some cases, you may need a work permit by your host country too. Visa’s will be required by UK residents who are attending a conference, providing services for a charity, touring as a musician or relocating to a European branch of your company’s business.

Where to find Visa Information

Currently, an EU-wide visa does not exist. Instead, you’ll have to apply for an individual visa with your host country if you want to work abroad after Brexit.

Those who were working in the EU before 1st January 2021 will be relieved to know that their right to work is protected. However, if you’re working or living in the EU who will have to register as a resident of that country by June.

If you’re a UK resident and you’re still interested in working abroad after Brexit, then you’ll need a job offer from the employer of your desired host country. You’ll need this offer to start on your visa journey. Once you’ve acquired your offer, you should contact the nearest UK-based embassy of your desired host country.

The London Diplomatic List contains all the contact details of every embassy. We recommend contacting the embassy via phone or email given the UK’s current coronavirus restrictions.

The embassy will be able to provide information about what you need to do in order to work in your desired host country.

You can also read the individual country’s requirements via the UK Government’s Living in Guide. Simply search your desired country, here.

VISA example: Italy

Miss X currently lives in Bristol and holds a UK passport. She has been offered a job by an Italian firm who are based in Rome. Miss X decides to accept the company’s job offer.

  • She simply can’t hop on a plane and start work as the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU has ended.
  • Instead, Miss X has to check Italy’s visa requirements via the Where Do You Live tool, which can be accessed, here.
  • Miss X’s Italian employer will need to apply for her work permit.
  • Once her employer receives the work permit, then Miss X will be able to apply for an Italian visa at a UK-based Italian embassy.
  • When Miss X has received the visa, she’ll be able to apply for a residence permit, which will mean Miss X  can live and work in Italy legally.

The visa application process for every country is different, so be sure to check the individual guidance.

EU Blue Card

You might be classified as a highly-qualified worker and able to apply for an EU Blue Card.

This card gives non-EU workers the right to live and work in Europe after Brexit. To apply for an EU Blue Card, you’ll need to hold a higher education degree (e.g. a university degree), work as a paid employee and have a salary that’s one and a half times the average national salary. You’ll also need to present a binding work contract as well as full travel and legal requirements.

Your European employer must submit an application form on your behalf. And, you may be charged an application fee.

Warning! You can’t apply if you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed. It’s also not applicable in Denmark and Ireland.

Entertainment visas

Entertainment visas are needed for working abroad after Brexit

Working abroad after Brexit is now different for UK musicians, artists, bands, actors, and crews who are transporting equipment. Those who work in the above industries will need to seek additional work permits if they want to work in Europe.

British musicians, bands and artists will only be able to tour for 90 days out of an 180 day period. This is very similar to tourist requirements that UK residents have to follow. Entertainers who decide to perform in France and the Netherlands won’t need to obtain additional work permits.

However, if you’d like to perform or work in Germany or Spain, then you’ll need additional work permits. The Incorporated Society of Musicians have complied a full list of work permits that you may need to apply for as a touring musician. This list can be accessed, here.

A number of high profile celebrities have condemned the end of visa-free touring. Government guidance could change in the coming weeks and months in response to the backlash, so always keep abreast of the latest guidance.

Digital Nomad visas

Throughout 2020, the entire world adapted to work from home. If you’re working from home, you might be fantasising about working by the sea and sun in Europe.

The majority of remote workers won’t be able to apply for a traditional visa. Your employer may still be based in the UK or, like may other digital nomads, you may not even have an employer. These two factors stop many remote workers from applying for a visa.

Instead, digital nomad visas legalise the status of travelling professionals

Each country that issues a digital nomad visa, has its own policies and regulations. The countries who have digital nomad visas in the EU include: Germany, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Croatia, Norway and Estonia. There are also a number of other non-EU countries who also have digital-nomad visas. This means you may still be able to work abroad with your laptop after Brexit.

To apply for a digital nomad visa, you’ll need to hold a valid passport and be able to prove that you have a steady income. You’ll also be asked to provide your nationality, any visa history as well as a criminal record. You may also need to pay an application fee as well as additional documents.

Like with other visas, you’ll have to check individual guidance with your desired host country.

Digital Nomad visa example: Germany

  • Miss X is a self-employed writer who has decided to spend some time writing in Munich, Germany.
  • She has several clients in Germany, from a variety of publishers. This means that Miss X has a steady-income and a strong client base.
  • She also holds a valid UK passport and doesn’t have a criminal record.
  • As Miss X is a freelancer, she’ll be able to apply for a digital nomad visa.
  • To apply, Miss X will need to register with the German tax office. She’ll also need to submit a portfolio, bank statements and provide evidence of her expertise.
Warning! For years, remote workers have also found themselves in legal grey areas. Always check the requirements of your desired host country before you attempt to work in that country.

Where do you pay tax?

Working abroad after Brexit could impact how and where you pay taxes

Now you’ve wrapped your head around the visa requirements, you’ll need to understand how tax works if you’re considering working abroad after Brexit.

If you’re not a UK resident, then you won’t need to pay tax on your foreign income. You’re automatically considered a non-UK resident, if you work abroad full time and have spent fewer than 16 days working in the UK.

However, if you are a UK resident, then you’ll need to pay tax in the UK. To work out your resident status, you’ll need to tot up where you spend most of your working days in any tax year. If you’ve spent 183 days in the UK and your only home is in the UK, then you’ll have to pay tax on your foreign income.

To pay taxes on your foreign income, you’ll need to submit a self-assessment tax return. Check out our handy guide on filing a return, here.

Remember! You may be able to claim tax relief if you’re taxed in more than one country. If you think this could be you, check out the UK Government’s guidance.

Your benefit entitlement

After the 1st January 2021, the rules for paying some UK benefits in the EU, EEA and Switzerland have changed.

For those who’ve already received benefits while living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you’ll be relieved to hear that you’ll continue to receive these benefits. This is as long as you still meet the other eligibility criteria.

If you’re moving to the UK after this date, you’ll still be able to claim for the following benefits: bereavement Support Payment and other bereavement benefits, industrial injuries benefits, maternity allowance, maternity pay, paternity pay and sick pay. Like before, you will have to prove that you’re eligible for these benefits.

Further, if you’ve made relevant social security contributions in an EU country, you may qualify for UK benefits This includes the New Style Jobseekers Allowance and the New Style Employment and Support Allowance. If you’re working abroad after Brexit, check where you pay social security contributions, here.

The guidance for British expats living in Norway, Iceland, Litchensutein and Switzerland is currently being updated.

Your state pension

You’ll still be able to receive your state pension if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Your pension will also increase in line with the rate that is paid in the UK.

While this guidance is for UK nationals, you’ll be relived to hear that the rules for state pension apply to everyone. So, if you decide to retire in the EU in the future, you should be able to claim a state pension.

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