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Care homes: first COVID vaccinations must be in place by September 16

Care home managers have been told to consult with staff now over mandatory COVID vaccinations: to meet Government deadlines, first vaccinations must be in place by 16 September.

On 22 July 2021, new regulations came into force mandating COVID vaccination for those working in and attending care homes from 11 November 2021.

Martin Cheyne, partner at legal firm Hempsons, says: “The clock is ticking – we are now in the (16-week) grace period and there is much to do.”

Among the key actions for employers:

  • Record the vaccine status of staff. This is sensitive health data, so consider your data protection obligations. The NHS App is likely to be the easiest evidence of vaccine, but the forms of evidence can vary.
  • Existing and future recruitment should refer to the anticipated need for COVID vaccinations (including booster vaccines) and consider revising contractual documents to reflect the changes.
  • Be prepared to examine the vaccine exemptions for staff. See the government’s Green book

Exemptions include:

  • Clinical reasons why the worker/visitor cannot have the vaccine
  • Emergencies
  • Urgent site maintenance
  • Friends and relatives of residents need not be vaccinated
  • Children (under 18)

Government estimates suggest around 40,000 workers in care homes will not be fully vaccinated by the 11 November deadline.  

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2 responses to “Care homes: first COVID vaccinations must be in place by September 16”

  1. sarah white says:

    When do staff have to leave employment by if they decide not to have the jab?

    • Martin Cheyne from Hempsons provides this advice:

      “Welcome to a boggy/grey area.
      Non-vaccination doesn’t necessarily render the notice period void.

      If an employee wanted to resign, the employer may choose not to hold them to their notice period. If though the employer is having to consider redeployment and then ultimately dismissal there may be insufficient time to give full notice and so payments in lieu could be necessary.

      Arguably continued employment becomes “illegal” and so the contract of employment could terminate on 11 November for that reason and no notice be required (as it’s impossible to work the notice period).

      Much will depend on appetite for risk, reasons, length of service.”

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