Compulsory vaccinations for care home workers
The no jab, no job issues continue to rumble on with the government having recently made it mandatory that all care home workers must be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 will come into force on 11 November 2021 but only apply in England. The time lag for the regulations to come into effect is to encourage and allow sufficient time for unvaccinated care home workers to be inoculated.
The regulations state that any non-resident of a care home aged 18 and over cannot enter residential accommodation unless that person has provided evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus and if not, they must be able to provide clinical evidence to explain why they have not. Only in limited circumstances can an unvaccinated person still enter care homes, which include providing emergency assistance, to visit a resident service user as a friend or relative, to visit a resident service user who is dying or where it is necessary to provide urgent maintenance or to provide support to a service user who has been bereaved following the death of a relative or friend.
Thus the only exemption is for clinical reasons and not for religious or philosophical reasons such as being an anti-vaxxer or an ethical vegan. And the exceptions are so limited, that it would mean even trades people who don’t provide urgent maintenance would have to be fully vaccinated.
There are inevitably going to be issues for care home employers and how they handle situations where their employees refuse to be vaccinated. Such employers should start now consulting with their staff and ascertaining whether there are any potential issues. However, it is most likely that they will have to consider possible redundancy situations if care workers no longer meet the requirement of the jobs, the requirement now being that they are full vaccinated. It will be interesting also to see if there are any challenges to the legislation on discriminatory grounds and whether any dismissals arising are found to be lawful.
The new regulations can be found here.
This blog was written by Anita Vadgama, Legal Director for didlaw.