Mandatory vaccines: The modern day Pandora’s Box

Mandatory vaccines: The modern day Pandora’s Box
Elliot Francis
Elliot FrancisEdwin Coe LLP

Posted: Wed 19th Jan 2022

Enterprise Nation expert adviser and associate at law firm Edwin Coe LLP, Elliot Francis, tackles the topic of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and the impact they could have on both employers and employees.

Connect with Elliot today for more advice and expertise on this topic.

What’s been proposed?

The government’s latest plans are that all Care Quality Commission (CQC)-registered employers of health and social care workers (including volunteers), must be vaccinated, unless an exemption applies. These plans have now been passed as law.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 were passed on 6 January 2022, with a ‘grace period’ up until 1 April 2022.

This grace period is intended to allow any unvaccinated workers to receive two doses of COVID-19 vaccination before the new regulations come into force. Currently, to comply, unvaccinated workers would need to have had their first dose by 3 February 2022.

What’s the response been?

The regulations have received significant criticism from the health and social care sector. There are:

  • concerns that a ‘full’ impact assessment has not been conducted

  • claims that the regulations pose a significant risk to workforce capacity

  • fears that lessons have not yet been learned from the existing regulations concerning care-home workers

The government consulted on the draft regulations and published the results of that consultation on 9 November 2021. Despite 65% of the people consulted being against mandatory vaccinations, the government pressed forward with its plans.

With the end of the grace period looming, the government are now facing urgent requests to reconsider. On 12 January 2022, The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) appealed to the government for an immediate delay (on top of the grace period already in place) to the regulations.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, said:

“Since the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, the RCM has been urging its eligible midwife and maternity support worker members to have the jab to protect themselves, their families and the women and families they care for.

“We believe it’s the right thing to do and we believe in the science. However, we do not believe mandatory vaccination is the correct approach, and actively argued against the proposal. Levels of vaccination in the NHS are high and rising and we should be using discussion and education to increase vaccination among NHS staff, not the hammer blow of mandating it.

“I appeal to the Health Secretary to reconsider his decision and to delay the implementation. Moving forward with mandatory vaccination could only see staffing levels fall further. The government has opened a Pandora’s Box of unforeseen consequences – but there is an opportunity now to close it.”

It remains to be seen whether the government will listen to further requests concerning the regulations. Even with this mounting pressure, employers and employees alike must continue to assume that the regulations will come into force on 1 April 2022 and take appropriate action.

If you have any queries about this topic, please contact Elliot Francis of Edwin Coe LLP and connect with him on Enterprise Nation. 

Elliot Francis
Elliot FrancisEdwin Coe LLP
Elliot advises on a broad range of employment related matters which can affect all new and developing businesses. Elliot is an Associate at a leading London law firm, Edwin Coe LLP. He may assist on various matters including, but not limited to: • advising on the benefits of service agreements for directors and senior employees; • drafting of service agreements and standard employment contracts for employees and workers of all levels; • drafting of basic and detailed staff handbooks and other bespoke internal policies and benefit schemes; • practical steps for taking on employees; • restrictive covenants and their benefits and pitfalls; • non-disclosure agreements for workers and self-employed contractors; • grievance and disciplinary issues; • settlement agreements and exit packages; • redundancy processes; • GDPR requirements for employers in relation to employees, workers and self-employed contractors; and • advice in relation to defending claims in the Employment Tribunal. Elliot’s advice is tailored towards your specific needs and circumstances and aims to cut to the chase and deliver you with affordable and pragmatic advice. Should you have a potential enquiry, please feel free to call or email him to discuss whether he may assist you. To find out more about how Elliot can help your business click here. 

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