UNISON has reacted to news that the government is proposing to make Covid vaccinations compulsory for workers in care homes for the elderly.
UNISON supports the vaccination programme, and we are pleased that the NHS has been able to fully vaccinate over half of the adult population already. We encourage our members to get vaccinated, but we know that persuasion is a much better approach than compulsion.
Indeed, a recently published study suggests that uptake of the vaccine is greater where employers are sensitive and engage with their staff, and is lower where workers feel threatened or forced to get vaccinated.
Mandatory vaccination will be counter-productive and could worsen the shortage of social care workers.
UNISON has called for a national care service, which puts people first and would properly reward social care workers with decent wages, permanent contracts and guaranteed hours. The government has consistently failed to take action to improve working conditions for care workers in a fragmented system.
Our General Secretary, Christina McAnea, said:
“The only way out of the pandemic is for everyone that can to have their jabs. Encouragement has the best results and research shows coercion makes the nervous less likely to be vaccinated.
“The government’s sledgehammer approach now runs the risk that some care staff may simply walk away from an already understaffed, undervalued and underpaid sector.
“If these heavy-handed plans show anything, it’s that ministers can implement changes across the whole care sector when it suits.
“After everything they’ve been through this past year care workers deserve to be paid at least the real living wage.
“Any claims the government is powerless to introduce a pay rise into a fragmented system with thousands of private employers will ring rather hollow in future.
“The NHS has been successfully vaccinating the public and its own staff for more than six months. There’s no reason to change this successful approach.”