It is reported that Covid vaccinations will soon be compulsory for staff who work in care homes with older residents, although unvaccinated staff are expected to be allowed time to comply or may be exempt from this requirement on health grounds.
We learn more each day about the devastating effects of the virus, and evidence is growing that vaccinations are effective at preventing both illness, and the spread of it. Therefore, perhaps this news may not be a big surprise when ultimately we are talking about the health and welfare of the care home residents. However, there is understandable concern about the potential impact of this on the staff and also the sector in general, with some challenging that it could be discriminatory or an infringement of certain Human Rights.
As our employment team explained in their recent article on vaccine hesitancy, several considerations apply when an employer is considering what to do about vaccinations among its staff. However, the overarching principle is of balancing the interests of the individual worker against those who they interact with in the course of their job and, if relevant, also considering possible alternatives to vaccination (potentially such as regular testing, adjusting the role or moving the worker to a different role).
Ben Lindsay in our specialist employment team comments: “This is a challenging and controversial subject. Just as the Government is attempting to do, employers may be able to justify a requirement of compulsory vaccinations if the risks associated with the virus outweigh the interests of the individual worker and the employer acts reasonably in the process, bearing in mind that there may be an alternative option such as the ones considered above.”