The Government has decided to extend the time period for which an individual can self certify that they are exempt from vaccination until 31 March 2022. A letter from the Government dated 8 December 2021 explaining the extension can be found here.
The reason for the extension is said to be because of delays some people have experienced in obtaining a formal exception. The one key issue the letter does not address is the certification forms being issued by the Workers of England, Scotland, and Wales Unions (the Union). The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has previously indicated that the certificates issued by this particular union are acceptable evidence of clinical exemption. It appears to us that CQC had not explored the Union's approach to satisfying themselves that the workers in question are exempt in accordance with the exemptions that have been identified by the Government so the CQC approach is, in my view, surprising.
Those providers who have accepted Union certificates expecting them to expire on 23 December 2021 will now need to reconsider their position. Our view is that it is appropriate to explore why the employee in question is not prepared to self certify directly to the employer and that it is also reasonable to require them to make an application for a formal exemption and to notify the employer of the outcome once it is received.
The latest letter from the Government provides "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".
We consider this is necessary because in cases we have been involved in relating to the Unions it appears they may believe:
- The Government's list of exemptions is unduly restrictive.
- They should not encourage their members to use the Covid-19 pass system for exemption as it is a trap.
Accordingly, we believe it is possible that not every worker who presents with a certificate from the Workers of England, Scotland and Wales Union would be considered to be clinically exempt in accordance with the possible exemptions identified by the Government to date.
Given the critical health and safety reasons at the heart of the mandatory vaccination policy, we consider providers should take a robust approach to ensure they are satisfied that individuals claiming an exemption are in fact exempt.
We are writing to you to inform you that we will now be extending the cut-off date for self-certification for everyone who has registered a self-certification before 24 December 2021. This means that self-certification forms will continue to be valid until 31 March 2022, so long as they have been received before 24 December 2021