07 July, 2021
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published its response to the consultation on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for care home workers. It confirms that vaccination will become mandatory for care home staff, volunteers and anyone else entering the care home for work purposes (subject to certain exemptions).
If the draft legislation approved by Parliament, there will be a 16-week grace period from when the regulations are made to when they come into force to enable staff who haven't been vaccinated to take up the vaccine.
The new legislation means that from October (subject to Parliamentary approval and a subsequent 16-week grace period) anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England for residents requiring nursing or personal care must have 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption. Regulations will be laid before Parliament as secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity. This is not a legal requirement until this is passed by parliament.
Employers should start to think about how this could affect their business and the subsequent action that may need to be taken, such as amending existing employees terms and conditions of employment to incorporate the legal requirement.
By changing the terms and conditions of individual employees, you will need to consult with and seek agreement from each employee to vary the contract of employment.
Consideration will also need to be taken in respect of any prospective employees who may also be legally required to take the vaccination.
Until legislation is introduced, mandatory vaccination policies could be unlawful due to vaccination not being suitable for everyone as well as there being potential discrimination risks. A mandatory vaccination requirement could indirectly discriminate against employees with certain protected characteristics and breach human rights legislation. This is something that is currently being addressed in the government discussions.
At this stage, the government only recommends vaccination for specific individuals, such as those working in care homes.
For more information contact Amy Stokes in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 0333 207 1157. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.