A poll by social care lawyers Royds Withy King reports that almost three-quarters (73%) of social care providers would like to make a COVID vaccination a condition of employment for new members of staff. That condition would include exceptions for those who can’t have the vaccine on medical or other protected grounds.
The poll of 194 care providers was held on 23 February at the law firm’s annual employment law webinar for social care providers.
Royds Withy King found that whilst the majority (53%) of care providers had over 80% of staff vaccinated, 20% of care providers are operating with more than 40% of their workforce unvaccinated. In the vast majority of cases this was due to workers being unwilling or unable to have the vaccine, although most providers (78%) said that up to 10% of unvaccinated staff wanted the vaccine but had not been able to access it.
James Sage, Employment Partner and Head of Social Care at Royds Withy King said: “Many providers have made good progress getting staff vaccinated through encouragement rather than enforcement. However, some providers reported very low staff uptake rates.
“The current figures, and the legal risks of forcing existing staff to have the vaccine, explain why increasing numbers of providers are considering making vaccinations mandatory for new staff. Of those polled, 73% said that they would want to adopt this approach whilst making exceptions for those who can’t have the vaccine for protected reasons under the Equality Act, such as pregnancy, disability or religion.
“These figures indicate how keen care providers are to protect the health and safety of their clients and workforce by ensuring that as many people as possible get vaccinated.
“In practice, fewer numbers are likely to move ahead with it now because of the risk it might hinder recruitment which is already incredibly challenging – 59% of providers reported that they do not have enough staff with a further 11% saying they have significant staffing gaps.”