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House of Commons approves regulations to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for care home sector workers
From October 2021, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission registered care home in England must have received two COVID vaccine doses unless they have a medical exemption. If an employee refuses, then after a ‘fair process’ dismissal without compensation could follow.
As with all things, the devil will be in the detail but the apparent intention is that regulatory amendment will make it unlawful for care homes to permit care workers to enter their premises without proof of full vaccination.
This means that registered providers of residential care will have to verify the vaccine status of each worker, including full time and part time agency staff, staff employed directly by a care home, and volunteers. Responsibility for compliance and enforcement will fall to the Care Quality Commission.
The move has been welcomed by some but criticised by others as fundamentally changing human rights. Whilst the regulations clearly have one eye to issues of disability discrimination by recognising that there may be medical reasons why a worker might not wish to be vaccinated, the regulations at first glance appear to be something of a blunt tool. There are other potential issues of direct and indirect discrimination. It’s possible that the protected characteristic of religious or philosophical belief could protect certain religious or moral objections to the vaccine. Aside from those who simply do not believe in vaccinations, other employees may reject the vaccine because of other fundamental beliefs, for example that embryonic tissue was used to test or develop the vaccine.
If you have any queries regarding this or any other employment matter, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team.