Multiple news outlets are reporting this morning that the Government plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for care home staff in England. This follows a consultation launched by the Department of Health and Social Care in mid-April on making the practice compulsory in care homes.
Employers in the wider economy are generally taking a more tentative approach, often turning to incentives (such as paid time off for appointments), rather than mandating their workforce be vaccinated.
There is some concern about the legality of any compulsory vaccination programme, and legislation implementing the policy may be open to challenge by judicial review. The Human Rights Act and Equality Act in particular will need to be taken into account in drafting any such law.
On BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning, cabinet minister Liz Truss stressed the need for striking the right balance between protecting individual rights and protecting lives but refused to confirm whether the policy would be taken forward.
Industry insiders were concerned that any compulsory vaccination policy would deter employees from joining an already understaffed sector, following reports of burnout from the pandemic and a shortage of EU workers post-Brexit.
Care staff are expected to be given 16 weeks to have the jab - or face being redeployed away from frontline care or losing their jobs.