Mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers
On 14 December 2021, MPs voted to pass regulations that require all healthcare workers aged 18 and over who have direct, face-to-face contact with service users, to provide evidence that they have received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by no later than 1 April 2022.
The regulations apply to any activities that are CQC-regulated, whether NHS or privately funded, and include both frontline workers and non-clinical workers who may have direct contact with patients, such as receptionists and porters.
Anyone who is presently unvaccinated and is caught by the new regulations will need to have their first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by 3 February 2022 and their second dose by 31 March 2022. At present, being “fully vaccinated” means having two doses of the vaccine.
There are very limited exemptions to these regulations and predominantly the main exemption applies where an individual is clinically exempt from having the vaccine. There are also short-term exemptions for some medical conditions, for example in the case of pregnant women, and individuals may be exempt if they have or are currently taking part in clinical trials for COVID-19.
These regulations also apply to volunteers, bank and agency workers, self-employed contractors, students and trainees, and anyone who deals with service users via a third party.
It is acknowledged that there are many reasons why individuals may not wish to have the COVID-19 vaccination. In respect of healthcare workers, these regulations are a legal requirement and so the limited exemptions are the only way around being fully vaccinated.
For employers, guidance has been published regarding dealing with individuals who do not wish to have the vaccine and individuals should arrange to speak to their managers if they are impacted by the new regulations.
Employers should liaise with their staff at an early stage in order to get the evidence required and to identify which members of staff are not presently fully vaccinated. Meetings should be held with those who refuse or are exempt to confirm the evidence required, deal with risk assessments, discuss vaccination and the individuals’ concerns about it, and consider alternatives, such as redeployment, or next steps.
Employers should also ensure that they are complying with the requirements of data protection law in relation to the storing of member of staffs’ vaccination status as this is special category data in respect of health, and should not store the data for any longer than is necessary to fulfil the purpose of checking vaccination status for the purpose of the regulations.
Contact our Employment solicitors today
For further advice regarding the mandatory vaccinations regulations or refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, please get in touch with our specialist Employment Law team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.
Our partners at Ashtons HR Consulting are also on hand to assist you.
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