Trade union leaders in Scotland are warning that making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for care workers risks worsening a staff shortage.
Unison Scotland says it has taken up several cases across the country of staff who have lost their jobs after refusing to be vaccinated.
It comes after we reported how one of Scotland’s largest care providers has started to dismiss staff who have refused to get the jab.
HC-One says that whilst 97% of staff have been vaccinated, those who have refused and who do not have an exemption on health grounds are being removed from their posts.
Balhousie Care Group, another large provider with care homes in Tayside and Fife, says all new recruits to the company will now be required to be double vaccinated.
Unlike in England, where the Covid vaccine will become mandatory for all those working in social care, no such legal mandate has been introduced by the Scottish Government.
John Mooney, Unison Scotland’s head of social care, says the union is fighting individual cases involving carers.
He said: “We believe staff shouldn’t be dismissed, we have a similar position to the Scottish Government – that you should treat non-vaccination through a series of education and supportive methods.
“We don’t believe making it mandatory resolves any issues, and the move by companies to dismiss staff goes directly against their complaints about staff shortages.
“Companies are struggling with staff shortages, but then dismissing staff for, in our view, an unnecessary reason.”
Mr Mooney also questions whether a legal requirement will even encourage more people to take up the vaccination.
‘There is no evidence it actually helps’
He added: “There is no evidence it actually helps. It’s just putting more barriers up whilst we try to resolve the staffing crisis, making it more difficult to recruit.”
A spokesperson for Balhousie told The Courier: “We have no policy to dismiss current staff for choosing to not be vaccinated against Covid-19 and who don’t have an exemption.
“However, as care providers to some of society’s most vulnerable people, we believe we have a professional responsibility and a duty to our residents and staff to reduce the risks of Covid-19 in our facilities.
“For that reason, new recruits are required to be vaccinated unless there is a valid reason not to.”