Prepare your policy on compulsory Covid jabs

Media reports today that Sajid Javid is set to scrap Covid-19 jab requirements in the NHS came as doctor employers were heeding advice to waste no time in formulating strategies to deal with employee issues arising from compulsory vaccination.

The NHS policy has set a marker for the private sector, but speculation about it being dropped at the 11th hour will come at a challenging time for some independent practitioners who employ staff.

When asked what advice it would be giving private hospitals and doctor employers, the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) said it would make no comment until the Secretary of State makes an official statement.

People must have their first dose of Covid vaccine by 3 February to enable them to receive a second by 31 March 2022.

Mr Richard Packard, chairman of the Federation of Independent Practitioner Organisations, told Independent Practitioner Today FIPO’s view is that it is a doctor’s duty to do all that they can to protect their potentially vulnerable patients whether those are NHS or private.

Lawyers have been handling large numbers of inquiries from doctors affected and one firm, DR Solicitors of Guildford, tackles some of the legal issues in a blog, including the problem of staff who refuse to be vaccinated.

Solicitor Karen Black says: ‘If vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD2) goes ahead as planned, then an employee refusing to be vaccinated could face dismissal under the definition of ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ or ‘SOSR’. 

‘An employer intending to rely on SOSR to dismiss an employee is advised to follow a fair procedure, which may include discussing the employee’s concerns about vaccination with them, and taking steps to find alternative work for an affected employee’.

On redeployment she believes many practices will have difficulty finding space in their premises to ensure separation of an affected employee. 

She warns: ‘Potential for redeployment and in particular, selection for alternative work is an aspect of the dismissal process where disputes are likely to arise. 

‘If you are an employer dismissing several unvaccinated staff but have identified just one alternative position, you may need to take advice on how you choose which employee to save from dismissal and redeploy.’

DR Solicitors believes the controversy and perceived unfairness by many of VCOD2 dismissals suggests that dismissed staff will not go quietly and some employers will face claims and unwanted repercussions on their time, money spent and reputational impact.

DR Solicitors’ advice: Protecting yourself & your business: getting ready for VCOD2