On 11 November 2021, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 come into force. This means that members working or volunteering in a CQC registered care home in England must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or exempt in accordance with the regulations. This applies to those who live in Scotland and Wales but work in England.
The regulations state that workers must provide their employers with evidence that either they have been vaccinated with the complete course of an authorised vaccine or, for clinical reasons, they should not be vaccinated. There is no exemption for religious or philosophical beliefs.
If a member is not vaccinated or exempt, the employer should explore all options available. These could include redeployment to a non-patient facing role, working from home, unpaid leave or utilising other infection and control measures, such as PPE and frequent testing.
If those options are not available, the regulations may provide employers with a fair reason for dismissal. Those reasons could include capability, redundancy, conduct or some other substantial reason depending on the circumstances. Employers must also adopt a fair procedure in relation to dismissal and employers must:
- consult their staff before considering dismissal
- clearly set out their vaccination policy and share that with their workforce
- explore all alternatives to dismissal
- not discriminate in relation to a protected characteristic
- provide staff with ample opportunity to provide evidence of vaccination or exemption
- allow staff to be accompanied to dismissal meetings
- act consistently
- provide a right of appeal
- provide notice pay.