Acas has published new advice today to help employees and employers at care homes in England understand the new Government rules around vaccination.
From 11 November, anyone who works inside a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care home in England must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19) unless they are exempt.
September 16 is the date when someone should have received the first dose of a 2-dose COVID vaccine in time to receive a second dose by November 11.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “Care home staff across England need to be prepared for the upcoming change in the law around vaccinations, which kicks in from November 11.
“Workers may not have yet received two vaccinations and some staff may be concerned that they won’t get a second vaccination in time for the legal change. Others could be unsure if they are exempt from the new rule.
“Our advice can help employers to prepare for the new law. It includes tips on how to support staff to be fully vaccinated and avoid losing talented workers.”
Employers will want to take all the necessary steps to retain care home staff and the skills they bring to their role. Acas advice is that employers should have regular discussions about the new law with staff and any recognised trade union representatives or employee representatives before November 11 as this can help retain staff and avoid resignations or dismissals.
If an employee or employer feels there's a problem following the new law then it's best to try and resolve it informally. Acas advises that employers should talk to staff to hear about why they are not vaccinated, discuss exemptions and see what support they can offer.
Depending on the circumstances, employers might be able to consider other options. For example, they might agree for the employee to:
· do suitable alternative work outside the care home premises, for example in an office or another place where they do not need to be vaccinated;
· take short-term paid or unpaid leave, for example if they’re waiting to get the vaccine or proof of exemption; or
· do training that can be done from home or away from the workplace for a limited time.
If the employer has explored all available options and if a staff member continues to refuse to get the vaccine then the worker could be subject to a disciplinary procedure. Acas advice is that this procedure must be fair, which includes offering the employee the right to appeal any decision.
If an employer is considering disciplinary action related to getting the vaccine, including dismissal then it’s a good idea for them to also get legal advice.