Following a consultation, which ran from April to May 2021, the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 were made on the 22nd July 2021 and come into force on the 11th November 2021.
The main thrust of the Regulations is a new provision requiring staff employed in registered Care Homes to be fully vaccinated, unless they are exempt.
Essentially, a Care Home provider must ensure that nobody enters a Care Home unless they fall into one of the identified exceptions, which include:
- Care Home residents;
- Friends and relatives of Care Home residents;
- Emergency help providers, including ambulances, emergency plumbers etc; and
- Children under 18.
If someone does not fall into one of the identified categories, the Care Home must not allow them entry unless they provide evidence that they have completed a course of an approved Covid vaccine, or for clinical reasons they cannot be vaccinated.
It is interesting to note that only those who cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons are exempt, and religious or philosophical beliefs are not relevant for the purposes of these new regulations. Also, many trades people who do not provide an emergency service, but who may be responsible for ongoing property maintenance etc, are not included within the named exceptions.
A 16-week period has been given before the Regulations come into force to enable Care Homes to encourage its workers to obtain the vaccine, warn of the consequences if they refuse to have the vaccine and arrange alternative staffing to replace those who refuse.
It has been reported that the Government is also considering whether vaccinations should be made compulsory for healthcare workers too.
If you require guidance on any of the above issues – particularly whether you, as an employer, can oblige your staff to be vaccinated or you, as an individual, can be dismissed if you fail to have a vaccination – or if you have any other queries in relation to employment or HR law, please contact Jonathan Moreland by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 0191 3842441.