NHS managers and employers have been advised to continue to include Covid vaccination as a requirement in job adverts, despite the Government’s intention to scrap the vaccine mandate.
In a letter sent to GP practices and PCNs (8 February), NHS England said that employers should ‘continue to include the requirement for vaccination’ when advertising for in-scope roles, alongside advice that the legislation is under review.
Employers should also include wording in that they encourage Covid-19 vaccination uptake in those adverts.
It comes a week after the health secretary announced a U-turn on the vaccine mandate, which would have seen all patient-facing staff double vaccinated by 1 April.
While the legislation is technically still in place subject to a consultation, Sajid Javid said he personally believes it is ‘no longer proportionate’ to require vaccination through statute.
The Government walked back its stance at the eleventh hour, days before the 3 February deadline for first doses.
The backtrack means that this deadline – and the subsequent 31 March deadline for second doses – will no longer be enforced.
Dismissing and retaining staff
Previously issued NHS England guidance advised practice managers to prepare for formal meetings with staff on their deployment if they chose to remain unvaccinated, however NHSE has since asked employers not to serve notice of termination.
It has now suggested employers contact staff who may have resigned because of the mandate to discuss the consultation, as soon as possible.
If someone is in their notice period, staff should be asked if they would like to continue, pause or withdraw their resignation.
If the person’s notice has expired, an employer can provide ‘reasonable support’ and extend an offer to re-engage them to their former role, and on the same terms and conditions of employment.
The employer must demonstrate consistency to ensure a fair process is given to all applicable staff.