Last week (22 July 2021) Regulations were laid before Parliament following the House of Lords' approval of the draft Regulations making it mandatory for anyone working in a CQC registered care home to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus, unless subject to a medical exemption. The Regulations come into force on 11 November this year.
It is of note that prior to the debate by the House of Lords, the Government published its Statement of Impact (not Impact Assessment) with details of its estimate of the full possible cost of replacing those workers who do not meet the requirement to be double vaccinated at £2,500 per worker or a one-off cost to care home providers of £100 million.
It is also worth sharing with readers that during the course of the Lords' debate, Baroness Wheeler tabled a ‘motion of regret’:
“… this House regrets that the Regulations do not include any information about how the legislation will operate and that this will be left to guidance that will not be available until the end of July; further regrets that a full impact assessment has not been published including analysis of the number of current staff who may not comply and the potential impact on care homes if care home staff become ineligible for work because they are not fully vaccinated or medically exempt; notes that the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee recommended that the debate on the instrument should be deferred until the operational guidance and full impact assessment has been published; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to provide stronger supporting evidence for permanently requiring staff to have received both doses of the vaccine or, if they have not, to be banned from entering their workplace.”
So care providers can expect to see guidance to support the new Regulations by the end of the month.
Care providers and their staff will need time to prepare, which is why a 16-week grace period has begun, allowing care staff who have not been vaccinated (and do not have a medical exemption and/or other legal reason they can rely on such as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010) to arrange to have both doses. Staff will need to have had their first dose by 16 September at the latest to ensure they are fully vaccinated by the time the Regulations come into force on 11 November.
For further information on managing this policy transition with your HR teams, read Joanna Burrows’ blog here.