COVID-19 vaccine to become mandatory for care workers?
Matt Hancock, Minister for Health and Social Care, has announced that all adult social care staff working in care homes will be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine or face potential redeployment or dismissal. The regulations, which are yet to be approved by Parliament, will give care workers a 16-week window to get both jabs.
The Government has cited a particularly low uptake among care workers in adult care homes as a driving force for the move to make the jabs mandatory. As many will be aware, care homes have seen the largest number of COVID-19 deaths, with over 40,000 adults dying in care homes because of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. The Government’s initial approach to protecting the vulnerable in care homes was offering the jab and using targeted advertising to encourage participation. However, this appears not to have been successful, hence the move to make jabs mandatory, which has come after consultation with the sector.
Whilst some employers have already stated that it will be a condition of employment to have had the vaccine, this is the first time that the requirement will have a statutory footing. Until the details are published, it is difficult to predict what the implications will be for an employment law perspective. However, many have voiced concerns that such a policy could turn people away from a sector that already has staffing issues.
It is unlikely that compulsory vaccines will be extended much further, other than potentially to the NHS. Therefore, this still leaves a large question mark over the viability of a ‘no jab, no job’ policy in other industries. ACAS’ advice remains that employers should encourage staff to take the vaccine. Any policies dealing with the vaccines should be thoroughly thought-out and consistent to ensure that they comply with anti-discrimination laws. announcement