A Perthshire care group has adopted a ‘no Covid jab, no job’ policy for new recruits.
Balhousie Care Group, which operates 26 care homes, is insisting that new members of staff either have or commit to getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
Companies’ positions on mandatory vaccines is back in the news. A new report found one in five employers plan to implement ‘no jab, no job’ policies in the next year.
However, a Courier survey of 40 major employers in Dundee, Angus, Perthshire and Fife found few firms looking to impose vaccine rules.
Rival care group HC-One mandates that all staff have the Covid vaccine.
Vaccine is ‘professional responsibility’
Perth-based Balhousie said it considered it a “professional responsibility” that staff are vaccinated against Covid-19, which can be “gravely dangerous” to care home residents.
A spokesperson for the care group said: “For new staff, employment is conditional on agreement to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“While we understand that not all applicants may have received their vaccine pre-employment, we require a commitment to getting the vaccine as soon as is practicably possible.
“We understand there may be valid health reasons why individuals feel they cannot be vaccinated. These will be considered at the recruitment stage.”
What are the Balhousie vaccine rules for current staff?
The care group started when founder Tony Banks converted a Kirriemuir property to a care home in 1991.
It said it is not insisting on current staff having the Covid-19, although the vast majority of workers will have the vaccine.
A poll of Courier readers found two-thirds in favour of making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for care workers in Scotland.
The spokesperson adds: “We will continue to monitor community transmission, as well as guidance from the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland, to inform all decision-making to protect our staff and residents.
“We consider it is the professional responsibility of all of our staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to safeguard and reduce any risks for both our staff and residents.
“The virus can be gravely dangerous for our vulnerable residents in particular.
“We have an overarching responsibility to reduce any risk of illness.
“We have experienced the positive impact within our care homes of the combination of regular staff testing, staff and resident vaccinations and infection control procedures.”
HC-One: Covid jab part of terms of employment
Care group HC-One introduced a rule that the Covid-19 vaccine is a condition of employment last year.
The group has 15 homes in Tayside and Fife and several workers lost their jobs.
A spokesperson said: “This was the responsible step for us to take to protect the people we care for, as well as our colleagues.
“The evidence clearly shows that vaccination cuts transmission and substantially reduces the risk of hospitalisation.
“Since the vaccination programme started, we have worked tirelessly to support colleagues who choose to be vaccinated, and to understand their individual circumstances.”
‘Seek legal advice’
Acas said its survey also found that half of employers would not insist on Covid jabs as a condition of employment. One in five were not sure.
Acas chief executive Susan Clews said it is a “very tricky” area of employment law.
She said: “It is always best to support staff to get the vaccine, rather than insisting that they get it.
“It’s a good idea for employers to get legal advice before bringing in a vaccine policy.”