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Care Home Sector Risks Losing 60,000 Employees as ‘No Jab No Job’ Deadline Looms

Care homes in England risk losing 60,000 frontline workers on 11 November following the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy.

It will, says social care lawyers Royds Withy King, deliver a crushing blow to the sector that has been on the frontline during the pandemic, that is struggling to recruit and retain staff, and facing chronic future shortages.

The social care sector in England employs an estimated 600,000 people. Data from the National Care Forum and Department of Health and Social Care Capacity Tracker, suggests that whilst the vaccination rates in the sector are high, 10% of staff have not yet been double vaccinated and just 0.3% of the workforce are exempt from vaccination.

James Sage, Employment law partner and Head of Health & Social Care at Royds Withy King, said: “Under the current Government regulations, care home staff who have not received both vaccinations and are not exempt will need to be redeployed or dismissed. There are very few opportunities for redeployment in care homes so many will be left with no choice but to dismiss those staff.

“Data from October suggests that 10% of staff, or 60,000 employees, have not yet been double vaccinated. That will of course change as the 11 November deadline draws closer, but care providers are facing the unthinkable prospect of losing in the region of 60,000 valuable workers from the sector.

“Many of these workers are highly experienced and will, put bluntly, be irreplaceable. Others will simply choose to leave to work in other industry sectors that are also facing staff shortages but which do not require mandatory vaccinations.”

The social care sector has for many years been pointing to chronic staff shortages and these have been exacerbated by post-Brexit immigration restrictions and the pandemic.

James adds: “It is widely accepted that the sector will require 490,000 new jobs over the next 15 years, which is approximately a 29% increase on the number of employees the sector employs today.

“Changes to the immigration regime have made the hiring of staff more challenging and funding models simply do not allow care employers to increase wages to compete across other industry sectors, particularly where they have increased pay and are offering signing on bonuses to plug staffing shortages.

“Losing 60,000 key workers as we approach what the Government is describing as a difficult Winter is unthinkable, particularly given the lack of any coherent Government plans on how to recruit more staff to the sector.”