Can employers use the NHS Covid Pass to check employees' coronavirus status?
In England, people can obtain an NHS Covid Pass to show that they have:
- completed a full course of vaccination, in England, at least 14 days ago;
- evidence of a negative PCR or lateral flow test within the last 48 hours; or
- proof of natural immunity shown by a positive PCR test in the last 180 days (once they have finished self-isolating).
A separate pass is available for travel abroad from England. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, people can obtain a record of their vaccination status, but the NHS Covid Pass is not available for domestic use in the same way as in England.
If an employer is considering using the Pass to check employees' coronavirus status, it must be clear about the reason for doing this. It must comply with its data protection obligations, unless it checks Passes without scanning the barcode or recording any personal data (see Can employers ask employees if they have had a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination?).
Employers using the Pass will need to decide whether to make it mandatory or voluntary, taking into account the organisation's coronavirus risk assessment and the other measures in place to prevent infection. Employees must be made aware of the consequences of not obtaining a Pass. Adopting a mandatory approach will raise potential employment law issues but will present less of a risk than a policy of mandatory vaccination, as employees have the option of taking a test as an alternative to vaccination. Employers should ensure that employees have access to lateral flow tests. For details of the employment law issues involved, see Can an employer require employees to have a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination? and Can an employer require employees to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)?.
Where employees have been vaccinated in other parts of the UK, or abroad, employers should be prepared to accept suitable alternative evidence of their vaccination status.