- Registered with the CQC (Quality Care Commission) and;
- Provide accommodation for residents who require nursing or personal care (including younger vulnerable adults).
Which individuals working in care homes are covered by the compulsory vaccination legislation?Anyone who enters the indoor premises of a care home needs to be vaccinated, including permanent staff, agency workers and volunteers. It also applies to other professionals not employed by the care home such as healthcare workers, tradespeople, hairdressers & CQC inspectors.
Compulsory Vaccination Legislation - ExemptionsIt does not apply to the following workers;
- Those under the age of 18
- Those entering to assist with an emergency or carrying out urgent maintenance work
- Those working in the outside area of the care home & not entering indoors
- Those medically exempt
Who is classed as “medically exempt”?We are still awaiting guidance being published from the Government to clarify this point but it is likely to cover anyone who is at risk of a serious allergic reaction to any of the vaccine’s ingredients. There won’t be an exemption for pregnant women, those breastfeeding or trying to conceive as they have now been advised to have the vaccination. However, the recommendations on the type of vaccine pregnant women have may affect the timing of them so employers should be mindful of any delay and avoid discriminating against those who have been unable to have it by the deadline date.
What do care homes (or those with workers attending care homes) need to do now?Don’t leave it until the legislation takes effect on 11th November; act now.
- Encourage staff to have the vaccine, be firm with the communication, give them full details of the timetable for implementation and pre-warn them that not having the vaccination, unless exempt, could result in their dismissal.
- Unless there is a contractual right to be paid, you don’t need to pay your staff for taking time off to have the vaccination but offering to do so could help encourage them to take it. Either way, ensure you are being flexible and accommodating for staff to attend appointments.
- Start asking staff for evidence of their vaccinations. Under GDPR, employers in general need to be wary of asking for this information but care homes and those with workers entering care homes will be able to do so as they have a “legal obligation” to collect the data. Evidence could be a vaccination card or through the NHS app. Employers can then target direct communication to those who haven’t yet had their vaccinations or are unwilling to do so by reminding them that by failing to do so or delaying in doing so, unless they provide evidence that they are exempt, could result in them losing their job.
- Consider redeployment opportunities. Are there any other roles they could do for the organisation without the need to enter a care home? Or for those more office or admin based roles, can they work from home without the need to enter the care home?
- Plan accordingly with regards to your staffing levels because the legislation will require you to dismiss those who refuse to be vaccinated (who aren’t exempt).
- Staff need to have had their first vaccine no later than 16th September in order to be fully vaccinated by 11th November. Staff should be advised of this interim date now, so they’re fully aware that they need to act quickly if they are to be fully vaccinated by the deadline date. This may then enable you to start any dismissal processes prior to 11th November for those who refuse to get the vaccine, as staff won't be able to use the excuse that they weren’t aware of how quickly they needed to book their appointments in.