Employment Law – ‘Spotlight Edition’ for August 2021
Last month saw the removal of all restrictions within England and a number of legislative changes in the aftermath of ‘Freedom Day’. For our second spotlight issue we have focused upon a significant change coming to the care home sector due to the heightened risk of severe symptoms following a Covid-19 infection and the risk of outbreaks in these closed settings.
Covid-19 vaccinations to be mandatory for staff working in care homes in England
The UK government has introduced regulations making vaccinations compulsory for care home staff from 11 November 2021.
Staff employed by registered care homes (regulated by the Care Quality Commission) must therefore be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the above date unless they are medically exempt. The duty is cast extremely wide and will apply to all employees, volunteers, agency workers, tradespeople, and hairdressers and beauticians that may carry out services for or within the care home.
The regulations are designed by the government to ensure that care home residents are safeguarded and better protected from the risk of death and serious illness that may arise from the transmission of Covid-19 (particularly within a high-risk environment).
The government have allowed a ‘grace’ period to allow any staff members, agency works, tradespeople etc. who are engaged by a care home to become fully vaccinated. However, this does not leave sufficient time for provides to prepare or to implement new policies and procedures for those staff who will not have received both vaccines by 11 November 2021.
Providers may wish to consider redeployment or temporary cessation of duties within the workplace should a member of staff not be fully vaccinated. To cover all bases, providers should also be considering whether their disciplinary policies and practices are compliant with current practices, and that they are strictly followed in the event a staff member refuses to receive a vaccination against Covid-19 (only after all matters in each circumstance have been carefully considered).
It is highly recommended that any discussions with staff should take place as soon as possible so that resolutions can be reached, and all members of staff, and those engaged by the care home, are well aware of their duties and obligations.
For further information or advice on the above employment law rights, please contact Hatchers Solicitors.
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