Within days of the September 16 deadline for care workers to receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, healthcare employers will soon be required to initiate dismissal proceedings for staff refusing the vaccine, but many are unsure of the correct dose. course of action.
A Citation study found that nearly 60% of healthcare employers are concerned about processes for unvaccinated workers.
The new rules, which are due to take effect from November 11, state that anyone working in an adult care home registered by the Care Quality Commission in England must have two doses of the vaccine, unless they are medically exempt. Those who are not exempt, or fully vaccinated, will not be able to enter the workplace.
Nursing home operators are already experiencing understaffing due to staff burnout due to challenges of Covid-19 * and many fear that the introduction of mandatory vaccination will lead to the departure of many employees or be forced to leave through layoffs. The government’s impact statement on the new rules estimated the decision was likely to see 40,000 workers leave the sector, but admitted that could reach 70,000 with an average cost to care companies of £ 2,500 per worker .
Of those polled, 60% of employers said they feared the mandatory vaccine would make it harder to attract and retain staff. With four in ten employers in the industry unsure of the company’s current job retention rate, it will be difficult for them to understand how severe the impact will be.
Since the start of the pandemic, nursing home operators have worked hard to secure Covid-19 workplaces, with 90% of employers trained in preventive health and safety measures. Now, business leaders are required to learn additional processes and legal requirements to ensure all staff are vaccinated.
Many operators use external companies to manage health and safety policies. Although 63% of healthcare providers said it gives them confidence that they meet all legal requirements, more than 80% of all employers are still concerned about constant rule changes.
Gill McAeer, head of employment law at Citation, addresses some common concerns of employers in the sector, on how to deal with unvaccinated staff and deal with the staff shortage due to its impact:
Employees refusing to be vaccinated
There is an eight week minimum requirement between vaccine doses, which means employees must have had their first vaccine by September 16 to ensure they have had their second eight weeks later by November 11. , when the rules come into effect.
As we are now so close to the September deadline, employers can now initiate termination proceedings for those who refuse to be vaccinated unless medically exempt. For those who refuse the vaccination, employers should clearly explain the consequences of not having it, leaving the employee to choose between voluntary departure or forced dismissal.
In the latter case, employers must ensure that they have properly explained the process to the staff member and ensure that a fair process is followed.
Employees who will get vaccinated but miss the September 16 deadline
The rules don’t come into effect until November 11, so an employee can continue to work until that date. If the employee will be fully vaccinated within a reasonable period of time after the deadline, he may agree with his employer to take annual leave or unpaid leave from November 11, until he is fully vaccinated.
It is important to remember that after November 11, even if an employee has had their first jab, they will not be allowed into the workplace until they have had their second.
One of the biggest challenges for healthcare companies is that, although they are required to obtain proof of their workers’ vaccination or exemption status, the government has still not produced the promised guidelines spelling out what conditions will be medically exempt, how employees can apply for exempt status, and what evidence employers can accept as proof of exemption. The quote saw many healthcare employers facing resistance on the basis of a “self-declared exemption”. This is not provided for by the regulations and a clarification of the medical exemption process is urgently needed.
Replacement of dismissed staff members
As the deadline for the first vaccine is so close, employers already have an idea of how many employees they are likely to lose due to vaccine needs.
Unvaccinated employees are legally allowed to work in nursing homes until November 10, so planning for the shortfall now and starting recruiting early can help mitigate the impact on the business. The sector was already struggling to fill around 120,000 vacancies nationwide before the latest changes and therefore well-planned and effective recruitment strategies will be of critical importance.
Due to the widespread use of temporary and agency staff, many employers in the care sector are unsure of their retention rates. Keeping a close eye on this can help plan ahead when more support will be needed, and introducing employee engagement initiatives to improve retention rates can help significantly in situations like this.
Citation offers HR and employment advice to employers in the care sector. For more information, go here.