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Vaccination in Care Homes in England - Updates

on Friday, 24 September 2021.

People working in care homes can (temporarily) self-certify they are medically exempt from vaccination.

We previously reported that from 11 November 2021, all care home workers and anyone entering a care home must be fully vaccinated, unless they are exempt.

On a temporary basis, people working or volunteering in care homes who are unable to have a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons will be able to self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria. The self-certification form for people with medical exemptions created can be used on a temporary basis pending the introduction of the NHS COVID Pass system.

Once the NHS COVID Pass system has launched, individuals will need to apply for a formal medical exemption and any self-certification will expire after 12 weeks.

Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccination abroad can also self-certify as medically exempt using the self-certification form for people vaccinated abroad.

ACAS Guidance for Care Home Staff

ACAS has now published its own guidance to help employees and employers at CQC-registered care homes in England understand the vaccination rules.

The guidance encourages employers to speak with staff (including those absent from work) about the new requirements before 11 November 2021.

It also encourages consultation with recognised trade union or employee representatives, which should cover (among other things):

  • who is exempt
  • how checks will be undertaken to confirm vaccination status
  • how compliance with the UK GDPR will be ensured
  • time off and pay for staff to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects

Who Must Be Vaccinated or Exempt?

ACAS notes that the vaccination requirement extends to:

  • agency workers
  • contractors
  • volunteers
  • work experience students
  • job applicants
  • other visitors (such as medical staff, tradespersons and therapists)

The guidance provides general information on how to check if an individual is vaccinated and what information must be recorded, as well as what do if an employee refuses to be vaccinated and is not exempt. ACAS suggests various options, but states that if a resolution cannot be found and all available options have been explored, employers may start disciplinary proceedings.

Practical Points for Employers

  • If an employee has a medical exemption, the reason for that exemption should not be recorded. This is to protect the employee's confidential medical information and comply with UK data protection law.
  • If an employer is considering disciplinary action related to getting the vaccine, including dismissal, the employer should seek legal advice to ensure it is following a fair procedure including offering the right to appeal any decision and ensuring that every employee is treated fairly.

Access the vaccination guidance from ACAS here.

If you have any questions about this article, or are concerned about the implications on the new legislation, please contact Sharmin Chowdhury in our Employment Law team on 01923 919 373, or complete the form below.

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