Vaccinations for Care Home Staff Will Be Compulsory from 11 November 2021

The government passed legislation on 22 July requiring CQC-regulated care homes in England to take steps from 11 November to ensure that all those who enter their premises are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons or are exempt.

The restrictions are aimed at workers, as exempted categories include residents, their friends and relatives or otherwise those visiting dying residents, those providing comfort or support to a bereaved resident, and all those under the age of 18.

Categories of worker who are exempt are restricted to emergency services personnel and otherwise those providing “emergency assistance”, and those undertaking urgent maintenance work. As well as care home staff, therefore, a variety of tradespeople who might need to visit a care home will also be subject to the requirement to be fully vaccinated, unless they cannot be for clinical reasons.

Care homes have been provided with a 16 week period before the legislation comes into effect to encourage their workers to get vaccinated, warn of the consequences if they do not, and make any necessary alternative staffing arrangements in the light of refusals.

We would remind employers that whilst refusal to be fully vaccinated without a clinical reason will be a potentially fair reason for dismissing an employee with over 2 years’ service, a dismissal must still be reasonable in all the circumstances, including that a fair procedure must be followed.

The government is reportedly considering whether vaccinations should also be compulsory for other health and social care settings.

Employers who would like more information on these issues should contact a member of Lanyon Bowdler’s employment team.