Can care homes implement a ‘no jab, no job’ policy?

The question this week: I operate a care home business, can I implement a ‘no jab, no job’ policy?

There’s a real possibility that vaccines in certain industries may become mandatory by law. A leaked government paper suggests care home workers and potentially frontline healthcare workers will be required by law to have the COVID jab. This is because there’s been a relatively low uptake of the vaccine in sectors where employees are working with some of the most vulnerable people.

No final decision has been made yet but it’s looking like a clear possibility – so what does this mean for your care home business? Can you safely implement a ‘no jab, no job’ policy?

Answer

We’re afraid, there’s no simple answer. Mandatory vaccines raise plenty of issues around fundamental human rights and discrimination. If the government does implement a vaccine mandate, they’re likely to face a huge amount of resistance, along with legal challenge.

For now, employers wanting to avoid the risk of claims should stay clear of mandatory vaccine policies and consider a different approach. Our January newsletter covers a range of suggestions which you can download here.

That being said, one of the largest care home operators in the UK has implemented a ‘no jab, no job’ policy, and anyone refusing to be vaccinated without a medical reason won’t be able to work for them.

 

Some potential issues to consider are:

  • Will employees sue you? Could you face thousands of pounds in compensation? Even if you win, claims take up a lot of time and you won’t recover any legal costs you incur.
  • What happens if an employee has an adverse reaction to the jab or in extreme circumstances, leads to a death? Will you be liable?
  • On a more practical level, how are you going to monitor and enforce your ‘no jab, no job’ policy and what is the cost likely to be?

It only takes one person to bring a claim – and be successful – for the floodgates to open.

As with most scenarios, it’s about balancing risk. The stakes are potentially much higher in this scenario and certainly controversial and unprecedented.

But care home businesses are faced with having to make extremely tough decisions – to protect their workforce, clients and business. It’s a delicate balancing act, and definitely not a one size fits all situation.

Speak to an expert

Need help handling a disciplinary or want to update your suspension policy? Whatever your situation Primed can help – Primed Premium gives you unlimited telephone and email advice from our employment & HR experts for an affordable monthly fee whilst Primed gives you access to extensive online resources and template documents to help you manage your team.

 

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