Requirement for COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment
The LMC has received several queries from member practices in regards to the requirement for COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. We are looking at the best ways we can support our members practices, but at a time we are still not clear what the wording of the legislation will say.
GPC (latest guidance updated 13.01.21)
In November, the Department of Health and Social Care announced the requirement for COVID vaccinations as a condition of employment in the health and social care sector. Health and social care workers who have face-to-face contact with patients, will need to provide evidence they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be deployed unless they are exempt. Unvaccinated individuals will need to have had their first dose by 3 February, in order to have had their second dose by the 1 April 2022 deadline.
This will have implications for general practice above those felt in other branches of practice. General practices are both contractor and provider which complicates the issue. Practices typically do not have the physical space to separate unvaccinated workforce into non-clinical areas.
NHSE/I has published guidance to support providers in preparing and planning for when the regulations (which are still subject to parliamentary passage) are introduced. Note that this is not a NHSE/I-led commissioning requirement but a legal one related to CQC registration and the regulations.
Practices are already straining with workforce shortages and enforcing this is going to an added burden. Practices will need to identify who has not received the vaccination and have discussions regarding their ongoing role. NHSE/I guidance advises, “as independent employers, primary care providers may wish to seek individual legal advice.”
- What does mandatory vaccination mean in reality for employed staff, partners as workers, and practices as employers?
- Who decides whether unvaccinated individuals are redeployed or terminated and how (for both employees and partners)?
- Are there legal obligations when going through redeployment (eg pay protection, changing terms and conditions)?
- Are there protections against termination for both salaried staff and partners?
- What happens if there are several staff in the practice who are vaccine hesitant – viability of practice, impact of service provision, impact on remaining workforce etc?
We are hoping to release the guidance before the end of the month, but much of it will depend on the wording of the legislation itself, which we have not yet seen. We will add to the guidance as more questions are asked and more information becomes available.
The Royal College of Nursing has also produced a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment toolkit which may also be helpful.