As you may have read last week, some 80% of healthcare workers and 66% of social care staff have so far chosen to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Because of this lower take-up, the UK government is now considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory across these workplaces.
This issue of mandatory vs voluntary vaccinations is a bit of a hot potato, to put it mildly. Nevertheless, much has been written recently about social care workers having a “moral duty” towards the people they support or are in close contact with. Similarly, the phrases “professional responsibility” and “duty of care” have also been bandied about.
Whichever side of the fence you sit, there are other work environments which do require mandatory vaccinations as part of their job. For instance, all dental staff must undertake regular Hepatitis B inoculations in order to be deemed safe to practise. Furthermore, without such shots, any professional indemnity insurance becomes null and void.
Whilst employers are currently legally able to ask new employees to be vaccinated – i.e. “no jab, no job”, it is the area of existing employees where it gets a bit tricky. Any employer can make a “reasonable request” to an employee – unfortunately, it is not clear whether this covers vaccinations or not, hence the government’s move to make an urgent amendment to UK employment legislation during this crisis. Their argument for this is that as many of the population as possible ought to be vaccinated, otherwise how might we get out of this crisis without it?
However, such plans have been attacked by both unions and hospital bosses as they feel it constitutes “bullying”, with any form of compulsion an affront to individuals’ human rights or freedom of choice. Thus, persuasion and encouragement should be the only tactics used to increase uptake of the vaccine in certain workplaces and amongst certain sections of the community.
There is yet another viewpoint within the adult social care sector – the commercial angle. Several large care organisations are being asked by families of care home residents for reassurance that as many of their staff as possible are vaccinated before placing their loved ones in any particular facility.
So, whilst the Government has yet to confirm whether mandatory vaccinations will become “necessary”, it seems that, in the meantime, significant moves within both the NHS and large care organisations have been made to reassure individuals who have so far refused a vaccination on either religious or health grounds.
We like to keep in close contact with our customers so we fully appreciate the challenges that both managers and their staff face on a daily basis, let alone during a global pandemic. We are therefore keen to offer our support to the adult social care sector wherever we can.
We already have an abundance of resources for managers available on Click, our online learning and assessment system such as Preparing for an Outstanding CQC Inspection and Supervision Skills for Managers.
One of our most recent courses is Right to Work Checks, an essential tool for recruitment purposes. Furthermore, our upcoming courses include Safeguarding for Managers, Assessing Competence for the Care Certificate and Mental Health at Work.