Tens of Thousands Could Lose Jobs Under Mandatory Vaccination for Carers and NHS Staff, Warns Union

FALMOUTH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Della Lilley visits and holds her mother, 89-year old Betty Whiteman, for the first time in two months after successfully passing a rapid Covid-19 test at the King Charles Court Care Home, on November 25, 2020 in Falmouth, England. The home is one of 20 …
Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

The chief of the UK’s biggest union has warned that tens of thousands of people could lose their jobs under the government’s plans to enforce vaccination on care home staff and potentially for NHS employees.

In July, British MPs voted in support of making vaccination a condition of employment for care staff employed in settings registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with the deadline for full vaccination expected by November 11th, unless they are exempt. While last week, the government formally opened a consultation on extending the requirement to Britain’s largest employer, the National Health Service (NHS) and its 1.3 million frontline staff, as well as other social care workers.

With the deadline for receiving the first dose of the vaccination, Thursday, for care home staff fast approaching, Unison’s General Secretary Christina McAnea warned that the government’s “heavy-handed” and “counter-productive” approach could pose a threat to the health sector and put tens of thousands of staff out of work.

The government admitted in the summer that as many as 40,000 workers could still be unvaccinated by the end of the grace period.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Sunday, Ms McAnea said of the care home staff situation: “We are being told that 10 to 20 per cent of staff are not double vaccinated and employers are really worried about what that will mean in terms of having to sack people.”

Her union is already taking advice on potential legal challenges to the care home vaccination rules, affecting 570,000 staff in England.

Care Minister Helen Whately suggested that failure to be vaccinated could result in staff being deployed elsewhere, in non-front line care settings, but care specialists warn that potential staff resignations will come on top of the current shortage.

Nadra Ahmed, chairwoman of the National Care Association, said that there are already 120,000 vacancies in the sector and warned that the legislation had “created what can only be described as a mass exodus from the sector”.

The Financial Times noted separately that according to a poll from the Institute of Health and Social Care Management, in 28 per cent of care homes, one in five staff members had already handed in their resignation directly due to the mandatory vaccine requirement.

When the law was passed in July, privacy and civil liberties campaign Silkie Carlo of Big Brother Watch warned that “millions of other workers” could “now face vaccination demands at work due to the expanse of this law”.

An August poll from the British Chambers of Commerce found that nine per cent of large businesses (employing more than 50 people) were already demanding staff prove their vaccination status, with another eight per cent saying they were likely to do so in future. While around one-third said they would consider introducing mandates for their employees.

Vaccination is not only having an impact on conditions of employment. Reports from last week revealed that Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket chain Morrisons had decided to stop paying full sick pay to unvaccinated staff told to quarantine after being in contact with an infected person, following the “biblical costs of managing Covid”.

“From 1st October, following Government confirmation that all adults have had the opportunity to get double vaccinated, we will no longer be paying full sick pay for pinged colleagues who have chosen not to be vaccinated,” a Morrisons spokesman told The Telegraph on Friday.

The union Unite warned that “such strong-arm tactics will result in issues around equalities, human rights and ethical breaches,” while shoppers have reportedly vowed to boycott the supermarket.


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