Unvaccinated healthcare workers in England face sacking with no severance pay, official document shows.
Frontline workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with two shots by April 1 – meaning they must have received their first vaccine on February 3.
Healthcare employers have been told that from the following day – February 4 – non-stung staff should be invited to a meeting and told that a possible outcome could be redundancy.
The guidance, released on Friday and reported by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), concerns the implementation of vaccination as a condition of use (VCOD).
The 24-page document said: “It is important to note that this is not a layoff exercise. A reduction or cessation of work of a certain kind does not exist within the framework of the regulations.
“Employers will not concern themselves with finding ‘suitable alternative employment’ and there will be no entitlements to dismissal, including statutory or contractual payments, triggered by the process.
“The reinstatement or dismissal of workers will be determined by the introduction of the regulations and the individual’s choice not to remain vaccinated.
“While organizations are encouraged to consider redeployment, the general principles that apply to redeployment do not apply here and it is important for managers to be aware of this.”
The guidelines state that employers should engage and work with their union or staff representatives to establish the formal actions that will be taken “in relation to transfer processes and potential redundancies of employees due to VCOD”.
According to the document, alternative options that may be available to an unvaccinated employee, such as possible adjustments to their current role, task limitations, or available redeployment opportunities, should also be considered.
It adds: “Starting February 4, 2022, employees who remain unvaccinated (other than those who are exempt) should be invited to a formal meeting, chaired by an appropriate manager, at which they will be informed that a possible outcome of the meeting may be dismissal. Meetings can be face-to-face or virtual.”
The document comes after leading midwives called for an “immediate delay” in plans for mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for frontline health workers.
The Royal College of Midwives said the directive could have a significant impact on maternity services, arguing this week that current staff absences are at their highest levels since the pandemic began.
The college said there were “chronic understaffing problems” in the sector, with an estimated shortage of around 2,000 midwives, adding that it feared the policy would further reduce staffing levels.
The NHS’ national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “The NHS has always been aware that the life-saving Covid vaccination is the best protection against the virus, and although there is currently a recommendation for health and care workers to be vaccinated is, it will soon be required by law.
“The overwhelming majority of staff in NHS organisations, nine in ten, have already had their second vaccination and NHS employers will continue to support and encourage staff who have not yet been vaccinated to offer 1st and 2nd doses in advance to be assumed to be 1 April when the regulations come into force.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said health and social care workers are “responsible for caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society, many of whom are more likely to suffer serious health consequences if exposed to the virus.” “.
The spokesman added: “This is about patient safety and making sure people in the hospital or in care have as much protection as possible. Vaccination remains our best defense against Covid-19.”