Compulsory care worker vaccination likely to backfire on sector, union warns

Forcing care workers to have a coronavirus vaccine is likely to backfire because they could still turn down a jab if they have been threatened or not given advice by their employer, a leading union is warning.

Unison said a survey of more than 4,000 staff in care homes and those working in the community suggested that plans for mandatory vaccinations would be counterproductive and could trigger employee shortages in a sector already in crisis.

The union has detailed its concerns in evidence to a Government consultation on proposals to make the jab compulsory for workers in care homes for the elderly in England.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents said they had been vaccinated so far.

The most common response from non-vaccinated staff was they had turned down the offer. Other reasons given included pregnancy, they were waiting for more research before going ahead or because they were still waiting for an appointment.

More than two-thirds of those who took part in the survey said their employer had provided support and advice about the Covid-19 vaccine, but others had received no helpful advice from their bosses and some revealed employers had imposed a deadline for them to get the jab.

A minority said their employer had threatened to sack them if they turned down the offer of a vaccination, or they were told their pay would be cut if they refused.

Unison senior national officer for social care Gavin Edwards said: “Vaccinations are the way out of this pandemic, but forcing staff to get jabbed won’t work, nor will threats and bullying.

“The Government should concentrate on persuasion and reassurance. The care sector is facing huge staff shortages. This already dire situation will only get worse if employees feel coerced and unsupported.”

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