The government has introduced legislation to Parliament to make COVID vaccination compulsory in care settings. These regulations were passed by the House of Commons last week and by the House of Lords last night. The draft Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 can be found here.
The regulations cover England only. They are still in draft form at present but are expected to pass into law shortly. They will come into force 16 weeks from the date they’re passed into law.
The regulations provide as follows:
The regulations build in a 16-week grace period to assist in the transition to the new rules, meaning that (depending on the exact date they are passed into law) the requirement to be fully vaccinated should apply from November 2021.
When the matter came before the House of Lords there were many concerns voiced regarding the fact that the operational guidance will not be available to care businesses until the end of July and the government’s failure to publish a full impact assessment. In the brief ‘impact statement’ published by the Department of Health and Social Care on Monday, it is estimated that the measures may lead to the loss of 40,000 workers (7% of the total workforce) within the 16 week period of grace. This is on top of the reported 112,000 vacancies the sector is currently struggling to fill.
The government has stated that it appreciates the impact of these measures on small businesses employing under 50 people may be greater and, to minimise this, the approach taken is to work with Skills for Care to ensure that local authorities and providers will have access to guidance and resources to support workforce capacity and resilience.
Our HR & Employment Law experts will be drafting the appropriate policy documents as soon as the government guidance is published, so keep an eye on your inbox for more updates.
And if you’re a care service owner with questions about how this might affect your business, you can call our experts for advice on 0345 844 4848.