From November 2021 there will be a new legal requirement for staff working in care home settings in England to demonstrate proof of COVID- 19vaccination. In addition to care home workers, other groups of UNISON members who visit care homes such as social workers and occupational therapists will also be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination. UNISON staff and activists who visit care homes for recruitment purposes or to meet with members or management will also be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination.
From 11 November proof of completed a course of authorised COVID-19 vaccine doses will be a requirement for all staff who work in a care home setting in England, other than those who meet
the short exemption criteria. It is important to stress that this new law will not just cover care home staff, but any worker required to enter a care home setting such as a Care Quality Commission
inspector, social worker or district nurse. UNISON staff and activists who might enter a care home for recruitment purposes or to support a member or meet with management will also be covered
by this requirement.
UNISON opposed the introduction of mandatory vaccination believing it to be a counterproductive measure, but regulations were passed by Parliament in late July making it law. There is a 16-week
grace period meaning that anyone who works in a care home setting has until 11 November to complete a course of authorised COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Therefore, UNISON has created this guidance for branches and members. It explains the requirements of the new law in detail along with advice on how best to support any members
affected by it.
Employers should be encouraged to provide staff with information about vaccination to help allay any concerns or counter any misconceptions they may have. They should also support their staff
to access vaccination through paid time-off work. Members who are medically exempt as well as members who choose not to take the vaccine should be supported to be redeployed by employers
if possible. The guidance also provides legal advice on what should happen if an employer insists but a member refuses to be vaccinated.
This guidance provides further information on how we will support members and protect jobs.