Mandatory COVID Vaccination for Care Workers

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Article

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.

What this means for Employers in the care sector

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.

Current Employer Considerations

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.

Advice for Employers

  • Refrain from amending employees contracts of employment at this stage, but encourage staff to be vaccinated by pointing out the risk this poses to residents and others outlining the government guidance and their responsibility to those whom they care. This could include implementing a COVID-19 policy as a way of encouraging employees to accept the vaccine.
  • Encourage and support your staff without making vaccination a requirement, for example, by offering paid time off to attend vaccination appointments.
  • It would be sensible to maybe advise any resistant employees of this position as soon as possible, but ensure that you inform the employees that this is still subject to parliamentary approval to become a legal obligation.

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.

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