Mandatory vaccination requirements for workers in health and social care: Planning and preparation guidance for employers07/12/21
NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) has shared operational guidance to assist you with preparing and implementing the new regulations coming into force on 1 April 2022. As reported in our previous insight, they require providers of regulated healthcare services in England to ensure that workers who are deployed as part of a regulated activity and have face-to-face contact with patients or service users have received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, unless medically exempt.
How will the new guidance support you?
NHSEI has worked with Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Employers, Social Partnership Forum and wider stakeholders to develop the guidance, which is intended to support providers during “Phase One: Planning and Preparation”. The focus of the Phase One guidance is to:
- support compliance with the regulations,
- maximise vaccination rates,
- minimise the impact of the regulations on the NHS workforce capacity,
- provide a consistent approach in the planning and preparation for the regulations, with minimal operational differences between organisations, and
- support employers ensuring the best protection for vulnerable patients and staff in healthcare settings.
The guidance for “Phase Two: Implementation” will be published once the regulations have been finalised. Phase Two of the guidance will focus on the safe transition of services and will cover the formal steps that should be considered when implementing the regulations (inclusive of a redeployment framework and advice regarding formal steps for staff who remain unvaccinated on 1 April 2022).
Phase One guidance: What you need to do
Employers in partnership with local staff side representatives need to act now to:
- review and assess which roles are likely to fall within the scope of the new regulations,
- review and update privacy notices (please refer to the data information section in the guidance),
- actively support uptake of vaccination via communication and engagement. Evidence has shown that sensitive 1:1 conversations approached holistically, with empathy and respect, are the best way to convert vaccine hesitancy to vaccine uptake,
- understand and document ‘in scope’ workers’ vaccination and exemption status. Ensure systems are in place to keep this under review. Agree arrangements with suppliers of temporary, agency or bank workers, contractors and education institutions who provide students and any other partners who supply workers or volunteers who will be required to evidence vaccination to continue to be deployed into relevant settings,
- start to identify options for potential redeployment to non-face-to-face roles, however, avoid taking formal action in regard to redeploying workers or reallocating duties until the regulations have received parliamentary approval. There will be a 12-week grace period from when the regulations are made (currently expected to be on 6 January 2022) to when the regulations come into force (1 April 2022) which will give workers time to decide to get vaccinated,
- proactively plan and identify potential workforce reconfigurations and redesign, ahead of 1 April 2022, to support staff wellbeing and avoid disruption to services.
It is recommended that formal redeployment of workers should not commence until the grace period commences on 6 January 2022 (although note that this date is subject to change).
How Capsticks can help
Employers affected by the mandatory vaccination requirements will need to take immediate action. Our employment law and HR experts have significant experience of supporting employers on the issues arising out of the introduction of mandatory vaccinations. If you need further guidance on the implications of the regulations or a specific case, please contact Victoria Watson, Alistair Kernohan or Chloe Edwards.