HR Expert: Compulsory vaccinations in care homes: Exemptions?
My client, a CQC registered care home in England, has contacted me again regarding the requirement to get their staff and 3rd parties working for them vaccinated against Covid. I have already told them that staff and contractors entering the home need to be vaccinated by 11 November or they cannot work there anymore, but now they say their staff are telling them it is the 25 December. Why are there two dates, and which is right?

Somewhat confusingly, both dates are correct.

It was originally announced that all staff working in care homes, and 3rd parties visiting to carry out non-emergency tasks, must be fully vaccinated (or medically exempt from being so) by 11 November to remain employed. If they were not vaccinated by this date, they will have to either be reassigned to work outside of the home or dismissed, where reassignment is not possible. At the time this was announced, the government had not defined who would be exempt, nor established a system for proving this.

Following this, it was announced that staff could fill out a self-certification form declaring themselves exempt from vaccination. This did not require proof, or confirmation by a doctor that it was correct, but it would only be available temporarily until a more formal system was put in place.

On 1st October, the ‘NHS Covid Pass’ was launched. This can be accessed via the NHS app or a paper form will be available. This provides formal evidence that the employee is able to continue working, either because they are fully vaccinated, or their exemption has been confirmed by a medical professional. Those who have provided the temporary form must get this proof (via the Pass) before midnight on 24 December 2021, or they will not be able to continue in their roles within the care home.

In light of the above, your client has two significant dates to watch out for. Firstly, they must have confirmation from all staff by 11 November that they are either vaccinated against Covid or are exempt from being so: this can be confirmed either formally via the Pass, or through the self-certification form. Those who can prove neither must either be reassigned or dismissed. For those who handed in the self-certificate form, they must prove this through the Pass before the end of 24 December, or face the same fate as above. Pregnant employees are able to provide either the Pass or their MatB1 form as evidence of exemption.

You should encourage your client to start speaking to their staff as soon as possible about this, and asking them to provide their proof as soon as they can.

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