One of the UK’s largest care home operators is insisting that all new employees get a Covid-19 vaccine before starting work at the company.
Care UK has become the latest organisation to adopt a “no jab, no job” policy for new starters, joining organisations including Barchester Healthcare and Pimlico Plumbers.
The firm has over 10,500 staff spread across more than 100 care homes.
A spokesperson said: “We hope all colleagues, present and future, will see the benefits vaccination can bring to themselves, their families and the people living and working in our homes.
“For new recruits, we now ask at both the application and interview stage whether they have had, or would be willing to have, the vaccination. This means, right from the outset, that they are fully aware of the need for new colleagues to be vaccinated as a requirement we make to keep residents in our homes safe. So far this has not proved a barrier for those keen to build a career with us. This approach is becoming increasingly common across the care home sector.”
The firm indicated to Personnel Today that it would be happy to help people get vaccinations once they are offered and accept a role with Care UK.
It said that existing employees “have been very keen to be vaccinated and have been coming in on their days off to do so”.
Private healthcare provider Bupa UK and charity care provider MHA are also considering their policies regarding vaccine requirements.
Last week the justice secretary confirmed that it is legal for businesses to insist on new employees being vaccinated as a condition of employment, but it is unlikely that firms could make existing employees have vaccines under their current contracts.
Law firms have warned that such policies could be shown to be discriminatory as they could disproportionately affect young people who will have to wait longer to be offered the vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) has reportedly rejected called for frontline workers outside of the health and care sectors, and people with an ethnic minority background, to be prioritised in the next stage of the Covid-19 jab roll-out.
Its advice was updated on Wednesday to recommend that people with learning disabilities are invited for vaccinations in the next stage. The programme will then proceed down age bands to 18-year-olds.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said: “The JCVI’s advice on Covid-19 vaccine prioritisation was developed with the aim of preventing as many deaths as possible. People who are severely affected by learning disabilities are at higher risk of death from Covid-19.
“As the severity of any disability may not be well recorded in GP systems, JCVI supports the NHS operational plan for anyone on the GP Learning Disability Register to be invited now for vaccination as part of priority group 6, and to reach out in the community to identify others also severely affected by a learning disability but who may not yet be registered.”
Responding to calls for teachers to be prioritised for vaccinations ahead of school reopenings, Professor Anthony Harnden the deputy chair of the JCVI, told the Commons science and technology committee: “When you look at ONS data, it doesn’t suggest that teachers are any more at risk of acquiring infections from coronavirus than any other occupation and there are other occupations more at risk than teachers.
“We know, for instance, that people who work in processing plants, who are in closed environments without ventilation and a great amount of noise and having to shout, are quite a lot more at risk than teachers who teach children wearing masks and have adequate ventilation.”