Employers should support staff in getting the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s offered to them.
From 11 November, people working or volunteering in certain Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care homes in England must be vaccinated by law, unless exempt.
There’s currently no other law that says people must have the vaccine, even if an employer would prefer someone to have it. There may be some people who are advised not to have the vaccine, for example for health reasons.
There’s a chance someone might still get or spread COVID-19 if they’ve had the vaccine. Even once people are vaccinated they must still follow guidelines for:
See government vaccine advice:
- in England – COVID-19 vaccines from the NHS
- in Scotland – COVID-19 vaccines from NHS inform Scotland
- in Wales – COVID-19 vaccination information from Public Health Wales
Vaccination for care home staff in England
From 11 November, anyone who works indoors in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care home must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they’re exempt. This only applies to CQC registered care homes that provide accommodation for people needing nursing or personal care.
This will apply to most people who enter the care home for work, including:
- agency workers
- contractors or self-employed people hired to carry out work in a care home, for example tradespeople, occupational therapists or hairdressers
The person responsible for checking who can enter the care home is the care home’s ‘registered person’. This is the person registered with the CQC as the care home’s manager or service provider.
The following people are exempt:
- anyone with a medical exemption
- current care home residents and service users
- friends and family of a current resident
- workers who do not enter the care home, for example a gardener
- someone providing emergency assistance or urgent maintenance
- members of the emergency services who need to enter the care home to carry out their job
- anyone visiting a dying resident
- anyone giving bereavement support to a resident after the death of a relative or friend
- anyone under 18
Supporting staff to get the vaccine
Employers may find it useful to talk with their staff about the vaccine and share the benefits of being vaccinated.
It could help to discuss things like:
- the government’s latest vaccine health information
- when staff might be offered the vaccine
- if staff will need time off work to get vaccinated
- pay for time off work related to the vaccine
- whether the employer plans to collect data on staff vaccinations, and if so, how this will follow data protection law (UK GDPR)
- whether anyone needs to be vaccinated to be able to do their job
To encourage staff to get the vaccine, employers might consider:
- paid time off for vaccination appointments
- paying staff their usual rate of pay if they’re off sick with vaccine side effects, instead of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- not counting vaccine-related absences in absence records or towards any ‘trigger’ system the organisation may have
Talking with staff can help:
- agree a vaccine policy that’s appropriate for both staff and the organisation
- support staff to protect their health
- keep good working relationships
- avoid disputes in the future
If someone does not want the vaccine
If someone does not want to be vaccinated, the employer should listen to their concerns.
Some people may have health reasons, for example they could get an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Employers should be sensitive towards personal situations and must keep any concerns confidential. They must be careful to avoid discrimination.
If someone is concerned about their health and the vaccine, they should talk to their doctor.
If an employer feels staff should be vaccinated
It’s best to support staff to get the vaccine without forcing them to.
If an employer feels it’s important for staff to be vaccinated, they should talk together with staff or the organisation’s recognised trade union to discuss what steps to take.
Any decision after that discussion should be put in writing, for example in a workplace policy. It must also be in line with the organisation’s existing disciplinary and grievance policy.
It’s a good idea for the employer to get legal advice before bringing in a vaccine policy.
Resolving an issue about getting the vaccine
If an employee or employer feels there’s an issue, it’s best to try and resolve it informally.
An employee or worker can raise an issue by talking with their:
- trade union representative, if they’re a member of a trade union
- health and safety representative, if they have one
- employee representatives
If it cannot be resolved informally: