The government has recently announced that covid vaccinations will become compulsory for those working in care homes from 11 November 2021. This includes those who are employed by the care home and contractors who attend care homes to carry out work, such as builders, plumbers, electricians.
What are the changes?
Changes to the law will mean that those working in care homes that are regulated by the Quality Care Commission must be double vaccinated in order to continue to work there.
This also applies to anyone attending care homes to provide services such as hairdressers and tradespeople. The purpose of the change is to ensure that care home residents are protected against the risk of death or serious illness associated with Covid-19.
Care homes must ensure that no one is to enter the premises unless they are double vaccinated.
There is an exemption for those people who cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons.
How will this affect care homes?
Care homes will now need to ensure that all staff and those providing services in the premises are double vaccinated.
The Government have provided a 16-week grace period for when the new regulations come into force which should allow those affected by the changes to arrange to be vaccinated.
What are my option if I work in a care home and choose not to be vaccinated?
It means that unless there is an alternative job role available for you, it will become unlawful for your employer to continue to employ you after the 11th November 2021.
Your employer should look to see what alternative arrangements can be made but if there is no alternative then they are likely to be able to legitimately terminate your employment, with notice.
Won’t it be unfair dismissal to end my employment just because I refuse to have the covid vaccine?
A dismissal is potentially fair if an employee cannot continue to work in the position, they hold without either the employer or the employee contravening “a duty or restriction imposed by or under an enactment”.
As such an employee who has not been fully vaccinated will not be able to work in a care home without breaching the regulation.
It is likely therefore to be a fair reason to dismiss an employee if they choose not to be vaccinated and there are no alternative means of carrying out their duties without entering the premises.
I don’t work in a care home, but can my employer insist on me being vaccinated?
Currently the regulation only applies to care homes and the government have not indicated that they intend to extend this to other sectors.
Employers cannot compel their employees to have the vaccination without their prior consent and making it a condition to providing work could give rise to a claim for unfair dismissal, depending on the particular circumstances. Each case and scenario will be dealt with on the particular facts involved.
It is important therefore to seek advice if your employer makes vaccination a condition of employment.
Points to consider if you do not wish to be vaccinated
We would recommend that you have a discussion with your employer as soon as possible if you have reservations about being vaccinated, and ensure they understand your reasons.
If your reason for not being vaccinated is related to a medical condition or because of religion and belief, it is important to explain this so your employer is aware.
It will your help your employer to consider any options or alternatives if they understand your position at the earliest opportunity.
We offer an initial free confidential telephone call on 01983 897003.