A week is a long time in politics and isn’t that the truth this week? But what are the implications of the shenanigans of this week for social housing providers?

Sidestepping 'partygate' ('if only you all would' is the cry from No 10!) the reverberations of the announcement to halt impending regulations, making Covid-19 vaccinations a condition of employment in health and social care, are widespread (see Matt Wort’s blog here). Not confined to the health and social care sector, housing providers will need to respond in some circumstances.

If that’s you, here are some pointers;

  • We run an extra care service – does that mean we don’t have to check the vaccination status of employees within that service?

Employees who worked in direct face to face roles with service users in extra care services were within the scope of the original regulations due to be implemented on 1 April 2022. Following the announcement, it is unlikely that this will be introduced and hence you will not be required by law to check the vaccination status of employees. You may choose to continue to do so as part of a risk assessment, however, you would not have the force of the law behind you to force anyone to reveal their vaccination status if they did not want to.

  • We have already served notice on some of the employees in that service, what do we do?

You can either write to those employees who have been served their notice and confirm that you have withdrawn such notice. Alternatively, you may wish to hold off doing that until the final announcement has been made confirming that the regulations will not be introduced on 1 April. If employees were served notice subject to the regulations being bought into force, then you will not need to withdraw such notice as it will fall away once the regulations are abandoned.

  • A daycare centre was being run on the ground floor of one of our properties, does that mean we can halt our preparations for checking our staff involved in the centre are vaccinated?

Activities provided in a day centre are not CQC regulated and as such did not come under the regulations. There is no requirement for you to check whether staff are vaccinated.

  • How do we know that the Government won’t change their minds again?

In these strange times, it is hard to foresee anything with any certainty! However, the Health Secretary gave every indication in parliament that the consultation regards abandoning the regulations is nothing more than a parliamentary requirement and should last no longer than two weeks. After that time the regulations will be dropped. To renege on that would be catastrophic for a government that needs no more drama!

  • Can we still demand that staff who are looking after vulnerable people are vaccinated for the safety of those we help?

As Matt noted in his blog linked above, it will be hard for providers of healthcare to enforce a policy of mandatory vaccinations following the Government’s U-turn across the sector. A tribunal would need some convincing that such a policy was appropriate and necessary in light of this U-turn in public policy.

If you would like any further advice on this or assistance communicating with employees please do contact Katherine Sinclair.