Government confirms repeal of vaccination as a condition of deployment
On 31 January 2022, the government announced its intention to revoke the regulations making coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination a condition of deployment in health and social care, subject to consultation and parliamentary process. Consultation took place between 9th to 16th February 2022 and the government published its response to the consultation on 1st March.
Of the 90,000 responses to the consultation, 90% supported revoking the requirement with 9% opposing this proposal. As a result, the government confirmed they will bring forward regulations to revoke vaccination as a condition of deployment, only 4 months after it was introduced.
The regulations will revoke the requirements that CQC registered persons only permit those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, unless otherwise exempt, to be deployed for the provision of a CQC-regulated activity in health and/or social care, and to enter CQC registered care home premises.
The regulations revoking vaccination as a condition of deployment in all health and social care settings will come into force on 15 March 2022.
The Government maintains that vaccination is the best defence against Covid and justifies the decision to revoke the regulations with reference to the statistics on the severity of the Omicron variant and the high levels of vaccine take up amongst the population to date.
The Government is still strongly encouraging social care staff to take the vaccine and it has been stressed that it continues to be a clear professional responsibility of all health and social care staff to be vaccinated.
Employers should rest assured that the revocation of the vaccine requirement does not make any previous dismissals that were a consequence of that requirement unfair. It was legitimate to terminate the employment of staff that were not vaccinated when the requirement within care settings came into effect in November 2021.
Further, there is no obligation on employers to rehire employees that were dismissed because of November’s vaccination requirement and those terminations remain effective. However, if you have lost staff that you would have preferred to retain, you are free to offer to re-employ them if you wish. That said, any such decision is entirely at the employer’s discretion, does not have to recognise any previous service with the company and can be on such terms of employment as are suitable in the new business circumstances.
Author: Sarah Edwards, Senior Employment Law Solicitor
If you do encounter any difficulties with previous or current employees following the revocation of the vaccinate requirement please contact the advisory team on 01274 864999.