Compulsory vaccines for carers u-turn : Too little too late?
MANDATORY Covid-19 vaccine requirements for health and social care workers are set to be removed on Tuesday 15 March, in a recent announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care. It follows a government U-turn on the previous vaccine mandate for NHS workers in England, which was set to come into effect from the start of April, and has been decided after a public consultation where 90% of respondents supported its removal.
Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor specialising in employment law at Nelsons, said: “When the compulsory vaccine announcement was made last year, there was a real worry in the care sector as to the impact it might have on recruitment and staff retention – particularly given the shortage of staff that the industry is already experiencing.
“There’s no arguing that the requirement to be double vaccinated caused a number of challenges for employers, as many workers refused the jab and chose to leave their roles or left bosses with no choice but to terminate their employment.
“Despite the U-turn, professionals in the industry – including chief executive of Care England, Martin Green – have spoken out about the decisions being too late for many as it’s unlikely they will return to roles they’ve just left. However, at the moment, this still remains to be seen.”
Advice to employers
“As the mandate has now been lifted, many employers in the sector may well be wondering whether they are legally obligated to contact workers who have left their employment and, if so, whether they’re required to automatically offer them the option to return to their former employment.
“While we await further detail on the revocation, it’s unlikely that employers will be obliged to re-offer jobs to those who left or were dismissed during the process. It’s also unlikely that staff returning to their roles will be legally entitled to have their previous service recognised in terms of continuity of employment.
“This is an unprecedented circumstance that has never had to be navigated before in any industry, therefore it’s important to ensure the correct steps are taken as more information comes to light in the coming weeks.”
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