Up until this week it had been the case that by 1 April 2022, NHS staff, health and social care workers, and volunteers working in England who have face-to-face contact with patients and service users needed to have been fully vaccinated (i.e. received two dosages) against COVID-19 unless they were medically exempt.

This means that unvaccinated individuals needed to have had their first dose by 3 February 2022, in order to have received their second dose in time for the 1 April 2022 deadline.

The government’s original decision followed extensive consultation with the Health Sector. During the consultation period, there was discussion as to whether both the Covid and flu jabs should be made compulsory. It was agreed that a Covid jab would be mandatory but the flu jab would not. The decision follows rules now governing the Care Sector, where mandatory Covid vaccination is already a legal requirement.

The shortage of NHS and care staff has long been an on-going issue even before COVID-19 but with the imposition of the ‘no jab, no job’ policy it has added greater pressure. Figures published by NHS England last week indicated 127,515 NHS/domiciliary care staff had not had their first Covid jab.

The issue has come into sharp focus this week. With so many health workers not being jabbed, the NHS and Care Sector faced a real threat to how they will deliver operationally. In response, the Health Secretary (Mr Sajid Javid) announced a U-turn this week, confirming he was ditching the government’s policy, something he had personally championed a few months back. The NHS had estimated 60,000 staff would have been dismissed had the government’s policy been implemented.

Jas Dubb, Associate at the Wilkes Partnership comments: “Not surprisingly, this state of affairs has caused quite a lot of controversy in the press. Had the policy come into effect, it may have been difficult to implement and could have exposed the NHS to grievances and a range of legal claims. Employers outside the Health and Care Sectors should tread carefully before rolling out a compulsory vaccination policy, ensuring legal advice is obtained so that they can achieve the best possible outcome”.

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Jas Dubb on 0121 710 5929 or via email at [email protected]. You can also contact any other member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333 or email [email protected].