Following consultation, the government has now announced that all frontline health and social care workers and volunteers in England (including the NHS) are to be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022.
The regulations (subject to approval by Parliament) will apply to workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care. This includes doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers unless they are exempt. Ancillary staff such as porters and receptionists who have contact with patients will be required to be fully vaccinated, despite not being directly involved in their care.
Health and social care providers will be required to ensure that workers are fully vaccinated. Exemptions will apply, although it is currently unclear what these will be.
There will be a 12 week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force. This mirrors the approach taken with working or volunteering in care homes, with the end of the 12 week grace period on Thursday 11 November 2021, unless medically exempt. Medical self-certification in care homes will expire on 24 December 2021.
Simon DeMaid comments:
“The latest announcement by the government brings all workers in the health and social care sectors into line with the vaccination requirements that already exist in care homes. The announcement is likely to be considered by many in the care sector as “overdue”, as it levels the playing field.
The requirement may be helpful in increasing uptake of vaccination in the health and social care sector, as opportunity to work “unvaccinated” in the wider sector is now time limited, until the wider requirement comes into force on 1 April 2022 (subject to Parliamentary approval).
Employers in the wider health and social care sector should be mindful of encouraging those staff who remain unvaccinated to take steps to be fully vaccinated. Although employers should tread carefully until the new regulations come into force.
It is unclear whether the “new” regulations for all health and social care staff will differ from the current regulations for care homes. We await further guidance over the proposed exemptions.”
For more information, please contact a member of our employment team.
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