How to prepare for compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for tradespeople working in care homes

COVID-19 vaccinations are set to become compulsory for care home staff in England as part of new legislation announced by the government last week.

Under the new rules, from October this year anyone working in a care home where residents need nursing or personal care will need to have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine. This will apply to all workers employed by the care home to do work, including tradespeople, unless they are medically exempt.

The legislation is still subject to parliamentary approval, and there will be a 16-week grace period from when the new law comes into effect.

This news has also raised questions as to what this means more widely for other employers.

There are a number of issues to consider with regards to mandatory vaccination. Mandatory vaccination is an intrusion on an employee’s body and may discriminate on the basis of disability, or religious or philosophical belief.

Employers cannot forcibly vaccinate employees or potential employees, unless they work in a sector where a legal requirement is introduced, as it being proposed for those working in care homes. As we await further government guidance on this it is important to bear in mind how the law stands at the moment.

Vaccination requires an individual’s informed and voluntary consent and cannot be forced. If employees refuse vaccination, to discharge their health and safety duty, the employer may need to consider other steps that can be taken to protect them.

An employer could consider potential disciplinary proceedings for failure to follow a reasonable instruction in certain settings (such as health or care) where an employees’ refusal has serious consequences but this approach is not without legal risk.

Any employers considering this approach should follow the government guidance once this emerges and seek specific legal advice if necessary.


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