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01st September 2021

Recruitment Guidance on Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine 

The recruitment process can be broken down into the following: 

  1. Identifying the vacancy, preparing a job description
  2. Advertising the vacancy 
  3. The application process 
  4. Shortlisting and interviewing 
  5. Making an offer of employment 

Identifying the vacancy and preparing a job description 

When a vacancy has been identified, employers will need to determine whether the role will be captured by the  Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (“Regulations”) making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, unless medically exempt or under 18. Any role that requires entry to the care home will be subject to the vaccination requirements. For example, a gardener may not be required to be vaccinated, but an internal cleaner will need to be. Please see the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and Procedure for further guidance.  

Once a role has been identified as one that is subject to the vaccination requirements, it should be clearly stated in the job description. Where a role is not subject to the vaccination requirements, it should not be included in the job description as it may prevent those who are eligible from applying.  

Advertising the vacancy 

When advertising job vacancies, employers should be careful to make sure that those who are medically exempt are still able to apply for vacancies. Vacancies should be carefully worded so that those exempt from vaccination will not be excluded. Limiting eligibility criteria to those who are vaccinated may give rise to discrimination issues.  

Candidates should be notified of the requirement for vaccination or medical exemption at the start of the application process. Employers should start to undertake checks during the recruitment process to ensure that a candidate is eligible to work in a care home. 

If employers use agency staff, they should liaise with the agency to discuss the vaccination requirements and request that only those who are eligible to work in a care home are put forward to the care home. However, it remains the responsibility of the Registered Manager, not the agency, to carry out the appropriate checks to evidence vaccination status or exemption.  

In addition, any volunteers who enter the care residence will need to show proof of vaccination or exemption, unless they are under 18. 

Application 

Where a candidate is applying for a role that requires entry to the care home, they should confirm their vaccination status or exemption within the application form. However, applications should be limited to yes/no questions and should avoid being too intrusive in relation to medical exemption status.  

Shortlisting and interviewing 

Employers should shortlist candidates based on their suitability for the role, regardless of their vaccination status or exemption status. 

Once a candidate has been selected for interview, the employer will then need to discuss their vaccination status so that the location of the interview can be decided. If the candidate is unvaccinated, and not medically exempt, interviews should take place outside of the care home or remotely. If the interview is to take place in the care home, the candidate will need to evidence their vaccination status or exemption before entering. If there is any doubt or lack of evidence, the interview should not take place in the care home. Employers may take the view that it is safer to hold all interviews remotely in the first instance.  

If the candidate is yet to confirm and/or evidence their vaccination status or exemption, the following questions should be asked during the interview: 

  • Has the candidate received the full course of an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccination? If not, are they medically exempt from the vaccination? 
  • Can the candidate evidence their vaccination status or exemption?  
    1. We are currently waiting for further Government guidance regarding exemptions, and what will be required to evidence exemptions 

Job Offers  

It is important that candidates who are medically exempt from the vaccination should be treated in the same way as candidates who are vaccinated, and vaccinated candidates should not be prioritised during recruitment. 

Where the candidate is vaccinated and has evidenced their vaccination status, an unconditional offer can be made. Where the candidate is not vaccinated, but is medically exempt and has evidenced their exemption, an unconditional offer can be made.  

Where the candidate has not yet confirmed their vaccination status or exemption or has not yet evidenced their vaccination status or exemption, a conditional offer can be made which will be conditional on the candidate successfully evidencing their vaccination status or exemption. 

Employers can only accept evidence of vaccination status from candidates through one of the following options: 

  • The NHS App
  • The NHS website – NHS.uk
  • The NHS COVID Pass letter

If any other form of evidence is provided, such as vaccination appointment cards, GP letters, etc. it should not be accepted as valid evidence. 

If a conditional job offer is made and the candidate is unable to evidence their vaccination status or exemption, employers may need to withdraw the job offer if it is a requirement for the role. Before withdrawing the offer, the employer may want to consider whether there are alternative positions the candidate would be suitable for on a temporary basis until they can evidence their vaccination status or exemption, e.g. office work outside the care home.  

It will only be possible for a new member of staff to start working in the care home once they have provided evidence of their vaccination status or a medical exemption. 

Evidence of the vaccination status or exemption should be recorded on the member of staff’s personnel file.  

Recommended points to action: 

  • Update recruitment policy
  • Update job descriptions
  • Update job vacancy templates
  • Update application form
  • Update job offer letters

References/further readings: 

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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