Acas has outlined advice for employers in the care sector on vaccination policy.
The advice comes amid concerns about staffing levels in care homes – and the knock-on impact on care – if frontline care workers refuse to get vaccinated. There is already a staffing crisis in the care sector, in large part due to low wages and the media has highlighted fears of workers leaving for better employed positions elsewhere.
From 11th 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.
16th September is the date when someone should have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID vaccine in time to receive a second dose by 11th November.
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 11th.
“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.”
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 11th November as it says this can help retain staff and avoid resignations or dismissals.
It says: “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.
It says that, depending on the circumstances, employers might be able to consider other options. For example, they might agree for the employee to:
If the employer has explored all available options and if a staff member continues to refuse to get the vaccine then the worker can be disciplined. 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, Acas recommends getting legal advice.