Care Home Workers – Mandatory Vaccination Letter
On 22nd July 2021, The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 statutory instrument was laid before Parliament.
The instrument brings in the requirement for care home workers (and other people who may visit care homes in a work capacity) in England to have been fully vaccinated against “Coronavirus” – or the SARS-CoV-2 virus with one of the authorised COVID-19 vaccines by 11th November 2021 (16 weeks after the instrument was issued) – or to be able to prove there are clinical reasons why they cannot be vaccinated.
It is ironic (or perhaps not) that the removal of freedom of medical choice for care home workers is to come into effect on Remembrance Day – a day on which we traditionally remember those who gave their lives in battle to maintain our freedom from tyranny.
The regulations appear to have been rushed through before MPs start their summer break. An impact assessment for the regulations was still being prepared so was not available for MPs to consider before voting.
Conservative MP William Wragg spoke out against the rushing through of the regulations, saying “The government is treating this House with utter contempt. Ninety minutes on a statutory instrument to fundamentally change the balance of human rights in this country is nothing short of a disgrace.”
Labour’s Rachael Maskell added: “We’re having to make a decision in the House this evening on the balance of risk and therefore we haven’t been given the data because the impact assessment hasn’t come forward.”
There are currently no plans by Scottish, Welsh or Irish parliaments to mandate vaccines for care home workers which raises the question why it was felt necessary in England. What science or analysis is informing Westminster decision-making and why doesn’t that same evidence lead to the devolved governments following suit?
As Mr Wragg points out, this piece of secondary legislation fundamentally changes the human rights of care home workers. It crosses a line that has not been crossed before and we must all be concerned that it is a first step towards mandatory vaccination for the whole population.
Human rights issues aside, the care home sector traditionally has a problem recruiting sufficient staff, due to some aspects of the work involved and the typically low pay on offer. The standard of care could start to fall if current employees are dismissed or leave the sector due to the regulations and job vacancies may be even less attractive for the same reason.
We hold firmly to the belief that everyone should have bodily autonomy and freedom of choice when it comes to medical procedures as is enshrined in numerous pieces of domestic and international law.
We anticipate the new regulations being challenged in the courts in the near future.
In the meantime, our focus is on empowering individual care home workers (and others affected by the regulations) so that they do not feel forced into having a vaccination, forced to hand in their resignation or face redeployment, dismissal or other disciplinary action as a result of exercising their fundamental human rights.
We are not in a position to offer formal legal advice, however we suggest the following course of action:
- Do NOT have a COVID-19 vaccination if you are at all concerned about the risks, or are only having it in order to keep your job;
- Do NOT hand in your notice;
- Download, personalise and send the Care Home Worker letter provided below – including the PDF that explains your legal rights and the law in more detail for both you and your employer;
- If your employer continues to demand either vaccination or details of your exemption from vaccination, find a suitably experienced employment solicitor – the Law Society has a directory searchable by area of law
- If you are a member of a union, speak to your union representative about the situation and to see if there is financial support for pursuing a legal case;
- If any of your colleagues are in the same position, consider joining forces to share the cost of a solicitor.
While we cannot guarantee the success of the letter, or any subsequent action you may pursue through a solicitor, we believe this is a better option than immediately submitting to being vaccinated under duress, or being forced to leave a career that you love.