Care workers: can my employer make me have the Covid-19 vaccine?

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From 15th March 2022, care workers will not be legally required to have the Covid-19 vaccine in order to be able to provide face-to-face care.

This new guidance comes just four months after new legislation was introduced under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/891) which required care workers in England to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 unless they are exempt.

Who counts as a care worker?

‘Care workers’ who are no longer legally required to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus include:

  • Staff
  • Agency workers
  • Volunteers
  • Contractors
  • Self-employed people who are hired to carry out work in a care home, e.g. occupational therapists and hairdressers.

What defines a ‘care home’?

‘Care homes’ includes any establishment which provides accommodation for the following persons:

  • Persons who are or have been ill
  • Persons who have or have had a mental disorder
  • Persons who are disabled or infirm
  • Persons who are or have been dependent on alcohol or drugs

This definition, therefore, includes care homes and nursing homes but does not extend to the provision of care in private homes. For example, an agency worker visiting an elderly person in their own home to provide day-to-day care.

I was fired for refusing the Covid-19 vaccination: what are my rights?

Under November’s legislation, nobody was able to enter a care home without evidence that they had received both doses of their vaccination. This meant that care workers refusing to have the vaccine without an exemption could be dismissed by their employers.

Can I be dismissed for refusing other vaccinations such as the flu jab?

Generally, an employer does not have the right to insist on any specific vaccination and therefore, to request one would not fall within the scope of ‘reasonable instruction’. If an employee refused a flu jab, for example, there should not be scope for them to be dismissed, and if you have, it is worth considering your legal rights.

Employers can, however, encourage employees to be vaccinated. Having said this, employers are under no obligation to pay for employees’ vaccinations, even if they are in a higher risk category.

I think I have been unfairly dismissed by my employer, what can I do?

If you think you have been treated unfairly or have been unfairly dismissed by your employer, whether it is to do with vaccination or otherwise, our specialist employment solicitors are here to help. Call us on 0117 325 2929 to arrange a meeting or complete our online enquiry form.


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