On the 9th November 2021, the Government announced Covid-19 vaccinations would become mandatory for all NHS front line staff and social workers.
I’ve written a lot on covid jabs and the law. For example:
The government has decided that providers of CQC-regulated activities in the health and social care sector must only deploy individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to roles where they have direct, face-to-face contact with patients and service users.
Full vaccination means that individuals must have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccination in line with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance.
Front-line workers, as well as non-clinical workers not directly involved in patient care, such as receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners, will be caught by the new rules. The requirements will apply whether a regulated activity is delivered through agency workers, volunteers or trainees or contracted to another provider. For health and care workers who may be exempt, the CQC-registered person must have seen evidence of their medical exemption before they can deliver care.
The government will implement the mandatory vaccination requirement for the health and social care sector by amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2936), as was also done to implement mandatory vaccination of care home staff. The amending regulations, which will come into force on 1 April 2022, will be subject to a 12-week grace period to give employers and workers in the health and social care sector time to meet the new regulatory requirements. Operational guidance will also be produced to facilitate implementation.
This means that unvaccinated individuals will need to have had their first dose by 3 February 2022, in order to have received their second dose by the 1 April 2022 deadline.
I’m a GP Practice or other CQC regulated provider – what do I need to do?
The NHS will have written to you already on the Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD). They say:
We know that one-to-one conversations have been the most effective way to support colleagues to make an informed choice, often leading to vaccination uptake. Therefore, we ask organisations to ask line managers to have supportive one-to-one conversations with unvaccinated staff members to identify reasons for vaccine hesitancy and provide information that will support them to make an informed decision about the vaccine.
Practically, you’ll need to ask employees for proof of vaccination status and the discuss with them the options.
The legislation for care homes is quite simple and it’s guidance allows for employees who refuse to be dismissed on notice as a SOSR (some other substantive reason) dismissal. Although an employer is likely to be expected to look at other roles, finding a non-patient facing role on the front line seems tough.
We’re suggesting that any business, not just GPs, have a written covid vaccination policy to refer to as well. We can help with that.
Otherwise, it be a matter of having meetings, recording those meetings, and ensuring people get vaccinated.
One major point is whether your employee data protection notice and policy covers sensitive personal data such as vaccination status, so you may wish to review that too.
I’m an NHS worker and don’t want the jab, can I refuse?
Yes you can refuse.
However, the law is (or will be) clear on the subject. No unvaccinated person will be permitted to work and you will be fairly dismissed if you refuse to get vaccinated. So sadly, while you can refuse, you will lose your job.
You will not receive redundancy pay or compensation; you will be paid your notice period, which could be 1-week or 12-weeks depending on how long you have been employed in the NHS.