GMB Union condemns Frimley NHS Trust in recording Covid Vaccine related absences as normal sickness

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GMB is highlighting Frimley NHS Trust's mismanagement of the sickness leave policy to discourage employees access to the lifesaving Covid vaccine. 

GMB, the union for all NHS workers, has strongly challenged Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust since senior management threatened disciplinary action and even dismissal against employees for any sickness absence related to Covid vaccination side effects.  

The call comes as GMB became aware that Frimley Trust management records Covid related absences as normal absence if an employee has any adverse reaction to the Covid vaccine. This has caused fear and anxiety amongst employees over how their absence is recorded and how if they were unlucky enough to have side effects, how this would affect their employment at the Trust.  

Although the numbers of people who will experience side-effects of the vaccine are very small, the GMB have been told that the move has left employees of Frimley Trust facing the harsh decision as to whether to undertake the Covid vaccines or to decline it in fear of being disciplined if they have any side effects.   

GMB is appalled by these actions and calls on Frimley Trust management to immediately remove the threat that is linked with the administration of the lifesaving vaccine that the Government, Public Health England, and Health and Safety Executive and all sensible parties believe is vital to defeat the Covid pandemic. 

Asia Allison, GMB Organiser said:  “A small number of staff have been unfortunate in having a mild adverse effect to the first dose of the vaccine.  

“Colleagues that are awaiting access to the vaccine may now refuse in fear that getting vaccinated may result in them having to take time off and leading to potential disciplinary proceedings. An NHS Trust like Frimley Health Foundation Trust should be supporting their staff to access the vaccine, not discouraging staff from taking it.   

“We know that NHS staff are on their knees, exhausted both physically and mentally due to the enormous pressure of the pandemic. Their time off should be spent recuperating and spending time with their families not worrying about their security of employment. GMB members' mental health has already been affected enormously, and employers need to respond and support members, instead of actually being a contributing factor! 

"GMB welcomes the Government's approach to prioritise NHS workers for the Covid vaccine, however it is outrageous our NHS heroes will be penalised by an uncaring employer over any side effect from the vaccine and any time off related to this.    

“Our major concern is this approach will certainly have an adverse effect on a take-up of the vaccine amongst employees. NHS workers don’t need any more uncertainty, they already have enough of that on their hands, every time they go to work during these unprecedented times.  

“Therefore, GMB calls on Frimley NHS Trust to reverse the policy that encourages our NHS heroes to have to balance receiving a life-saving vaccine against security in their jobs. 

“If we don't hear from the Trust soon, we will have to consider entering into dispute.” 


Media enquiries: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at