As readers will have no doubt seen and heard in the mainstream media, the Government is set to revoke the regulations which make vaccination against covid-19 a condition of deployment for health and social care staff. The change, announced on 31 January 2022, is subject to public consultation and parliamentary approval, with the Government explaining that since the introduction of the regulations it was ‘no longer proportionate’ to require vaccination as Omicron was now the dominant variant. The consultation has not yet been published.
The announcement came only three days before the last date on which workers would have needed to have their first jab to meet the 1 April 2022 deadline for being fully vaccinated.
The change in the law will also apply to care home workers. An estimated 19,300 care staff lost their jobs in 2021 as a result of the requirement to be vaccinated against covid-19. NHS England has issued an FAQ document for employers of healthcare workers, which includes the advice that they should offer to retract any notice of dismissal given to an employee because of the requirement to be vaccinated, and offer to reengage any employee whose employment had already ended. Although this advice is aimed at employees who would have been covered by the regulations covering health and social care staff it is possible that an Employment Tribunal could say the same approach should have been considered for care workers.