ACAS guidance published – getting the COVID-19 vaccine for work

Our latest blog post commented on the new Government rules coming into effect from 11 November 2021 around vaccination for anyone who works inside a CQC registered care home in England. ACAS has published new advice for care home staff in England setting out how employers can approach the issue with their staff.

Following the suggestion that mandatory vaccination in a care home setting could lead to around 3-12% of care home staff being no longer able to work, the advice from ACAS focuses on helping employers to support staff and to provide strategies to avoid potential disciplinary action or dismissal.

Compliance with the law will be enforced by the CQC in its usual monitoring and inspection process and so it is important that employers open up communication with staff as soon as possible.

Potential alternative options for a staff member who remains unvaccinated as at 11 November 2021 are set out to include:

  • Carrying out alternative work outside the care home premises, for example in an office or another place where they do not need to be vaccinated
  • Taking short-term or unpaid leave (if waiting to get the vaccine or proof of exemption)
  • Carrying out training from home or off-site for a limited period of time

In a sector that is already heavily pressurised, the loss of any key staff members due to disputes about vaccination status will want to be avoided as far as possible. ACAS highlights the need for employers to hold discussions with staff before the introduction date of 11 November 2021 and to ensure there is awareness of the last date (16 September 2021) when they should receive the first dose of a 2-dose vaccine in time to receive a second dose in time.

The ACAS advice note can be accessed here.

For the Care Sector this is a huge concern with some care homes owners and managers considering if they will be able to continue to provide the appropriate level of care if indeed staffing levels are further reduced as a result of this. Some care homes are reaching out to family members to assist or seeking assistance from the voluntary sector. Some have already indicated that they may need to return residents to the Local Authority.

What this may mean for the future in terms of complaints and claims is far from clear.


Rachel Barnes, Associate, BLM
rachel.barnes@blmlaw.com

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