Government U-Turn on Mandatory Vaccination

Following on from our previous blog where we set out an update regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers working within a ‘regulated activity’ from 1 April 2022, the Government has now made a U-turn and is looking to revoke the legislation that would have brought those changes into effect. It is also intending to end the requirement, that has been in place since 11 November 2021, that workers in CQC-regulated care homes in England be fully vaccinated.

The above plans are subject to a two-week consultation period and Parliamentary approval, but Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said that the consultation, which is a legal requirement, is unlikely to change the position. 

The change in direction has been made in response to the outcome of research which has become available since the initial decision on mandatory vaccination was made. This research suggests that a greater level public protection from COVID-19 has now been achieved, and that the Omicron variant is less severe when compared with the Delta variant. 

In order to have met the requirement to be fully vaccinated by 1 April, unvaccinated healthcare workers would need to have received their first jab by 3 February. 

Secretary of State has confirmed that once the relevant legislation has been revoked, CQC-regulated care homes in England will be able to re-employ unvaccinated workers who left or were dismissed due to the compulsory vaccination requirement, but without statutory continuity of employment being restored. 

NHS leaders have sent a letter to NHS employers requesting that they do not serve notice of termination on unvaccinated employees, and it would clearly be prudent for employers in the regulated sector outside the NHS to do likewise. In addition to this, all employers in affected regulated and care sectors should keep up to date with the outcome of the consultation process and, ultimately, Parliament’s decision in respect of the Government’s proposal to abolish mandatory vaccination.

If you require any further advice on the above updates and their implications, please do contact our employment team to arrange an appointment.