Workers within CQC-regulated care homes in England had until 24th December to provide official evidence of a permanent medical exemption or face being redeployed or dismissed from their jobs.
However, the Government has now extended the deadline for providing medical certification to the 31st of March 2022.
Alan Price is CEO at BrightHR. He says: “Many care homes will be breathing a sigh of relief at the news of this extension. With Omicron on the increase, the busy Christmas season upon us and the booster jab drive in full flow, the last thing any employer wanted was to lose part of their workforce from Christmas Eve.
“Naturally the booster jab drive takes priority when it comes to NHS and GP resources, but this means that employees could have struggled to get the medical certification they needed to keep their jobs after having self-certified as exempt. This new deadline means that the pressure is lifted, at least temporarily.
“Employers should hopefully know exactly how many of their employees this rule would apply to and be having ongoing conversations with these employees. It’s important employers also have discussions with anyone who is temporarily away from work such as those on a career break, maternity, or long-term sick leave, as well as with anyone who needs to enter the care home for work, for example hairdressers and occupation therapists, to let them know they will also need to show proof of their vaccination status or exemption.
“Care homes must ensure they keep an updated record of the date they checked the vaccinations or exemption status for both staff members and those carrying out work inside the care home (unless they’re exempt from checks).
“If someone does have a medical exemption, this reason should not be recorded to ensure confidentiality of medical information and to comply with UK data protection law. The exception to this would be pregnant employees, where the medical exemption only lasts until 16 weeks after the child has been born.
“Self-certification forms will continue to be valid until 31 March 2022, so long as they have been received before 24 December 2021. Care home providers should strongly encourage staff to use the Government’s official self-certification form, but others can be accepted if necessary.
“From 1 April 2022, workers will either need to show proof of a formal medical exemption via the NHS Covid Pass Service or be fully vaccinated against Covid, in order to comply with the regulation and continue working in a CQC-regulated care home.
“Care home workers who wish to apply for a formal medical exemption should do so as soon as possible and inform their employer of the outcome of their application once they receive it.”