01 September 2021
HR consultancy expert, Kerri Constable, guides private healthcare companies on key people issues to consider over the coming months.
From 1 April 2022, coronavirus vaccines will be compulsory for all frontline health and social care workers in England, not just those in the NHS. This could affect dentists, pharmacists, midwives and other general practice staff, along with paramedics and hospice workers.
Coronavirus vaccinations have been mandated for all people working full or part-time in care homes since 11 November 2021, including visitors such as hairdressers, cleaners and volunteers. This latest requirement is likely to add to the sector’s existing recruitment difficulties.
A good HR process and system
Employers will need to write to their employees to let them know about the new vaccination rules. It would also be good practice to meet employees to ascertain their vaccination status well ahead of the April deadline, as it’s likely this will also mean a change in terms and conditions for current and future employees.
Private healthcare organisations (including care homes) will need to ensure that they meet with their employees to explore other options where required, eg possible redeployment into non-frontline roles. Employers are reminded that even where there are good grounds for dismissing an unvaccinated worker, the failure to follow a fair process can lead to a claim being made at an employment tribunal.
Employers will also need processes for securely collating, verifying and storing people’s vaccination information. A good HR process will be essential to ensuring that the new rules are successfully followed for the whole workforce, including both prospective and current employees.
Compliance is likely to be ongoing for healthcare employers affected by the new laws, for example, so they can keep track of when employees have booster jabs. An HR system and process that supports these new requirements will be important.
Flexible working requests
Another current topic is the increased number of flexible working requests employers are receiving as we transition out of the government’s work from home mandate. It’s important that employers deal with these requests in line with the legislation.
Our specialist People Advisory Services team combines both legal and HR expertise to support our healthcare clients to manage requests fairly and in compliance with employment law.
Finally, lots of healthcare employers are reporting employees experiencing worsening mental health and many are looking for advice from our HR teams on how to deal with short- and long-term absences. Performance issues or workplace conflicts are also signs of poor mental health among employees and workers.
Since the pandemic, employees have become more open to talking about their mental health, which is a good thing. But this does mean managers require additional support to have meaningful conversations on this topic and ensure good early interventions before situations become too difficult to manage.
Our HR team has seen an increase in queries about a wide range wellbeing from many sectors, including healthcare, and can help managers to deal with them.