Care home staff in England who want to continue to work after the government’s mandatory vaccination rules come into force have until Thursday 16 September to receive their first Covid-19 jab.
From 11 November, anyone who works inside a care home registered with the Care Quality Commission must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus – unless they are exempt.
Next week’s deadline has been highlighted by conciliation service Acas, which today publishes new guidance to help employers and their staff in care homes understand the new rules around vaccination.
The advice comes after the Department of Health and Social Care yesterday launched a six-week consultation examining the introduction of similar mandatory vaccination rules for frontline workers in the NHS, not only for coronavirus but also seasonal flu.
Thursday 16 September is the date when someone should have received the first dose of a two-dose Covid vaccine in time to receive their second dose, eight weeks later, before the regulations come into force.
Acas chief executive Susan Clews said: “Care home staff across England need to be prepared for the upcoming change in the law around vaccinations, which kicks in from 11 November.
“Workers may not have yet received two vaccinations and some staff may be concerned that they won’t get a second vaccination in time for the legal change. Others could be unsure if they are exempt from the new rule.
“Our advice can help employers to prepare for the new law. It includes tips on how to support staff to be fully vaccinated and avoid losing talented workers.”
Employers will want to take all the necessary steps to retain care home staff and the skills they bring to their role. Acas advises employers to have regular discussions about the new law with staff – and any recognised trade union or employee representatives – as this can help retain staff and avoid resignations or dismissals.
If an employee or employer feels there’s a problem following the new law, then Acas says it’s best to try and resolve it informally. Employers should talk to staff to hear about why they are not vaccinated, discuss exemptions and see what support they can offer.
Depending on the circumstances, employers might be able to consider other options. For example, they might agree for the employee to:
- assign suitable alternative work outside the care home premises, for example in an office or another place where they do not need to be vaccinated
- take short-term paid or unpaid leave, for example if they’re waiting to get the vaccine or proof of exemption, or
- attend training that can be done from home or away from the workplace for a limited time.
If the care home has explored all available options and if a staff member continues to refuse to be vaccinated, then the worker could be subject to a disciplinary procedure.