Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Coronavirus - working in care homes and health services

This advice applies to England

If your employer says you'll be dismissed if you don't get vaccinated

The law currently says you must be vaccinated against COVID-19 if you work in a care home or other health service. However, on 31 January 2022 the government announced they’re planning to change the law so care home and other health service workers don’t need to be vaccinated.

If you’re a health service worker, your employer shouldn’t give you notice of dismissal. If they do, you should ask your employer to read the NHS guidance letter on the NHS website.


If you work in a care home

The law currently says you must have had 2 COVID-19 vaccines unless any of the following apply:

  • you’re exempt because of medical reasons - check who is exempt from COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK
  • you don’t enter the care home building at all - for example, if you’re a gardener
  • you’re providing emergency assistance or urgent maintenance
  • you work for the emergency services and you need to enter the care home
  • you’re visiting a dying resident - for example, if you’re a priest
  • you’re giving bereavement support to a resident after the death of their family member or friend
  • you’re under 18

You must be vaccinated even if you don’t work with residents face to face.

You must also be vaccinated if you only sometimes go into a care home - for example, if you’re a hairdresser.

If you work in health services

The law currently says you must have had 2 COVID-19 vaccines by 1 April 2022 if you work with patients or clients face to face in any other Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated service. For example, you need to be vaccinated if you work in a GP surgery or a hospital.

You’ll need to have your first vaccine by 3 February 2022.

You won’t need to have the vaccines if any of the following apply:

  • you’re exempt because of medical reasons - check who is exempt from COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK
  • you don’t work with patients or clients face to face
  • you’re under 18
  • you’re taking part in a COVID-19 clinical trial - you’ll need to show your employer proof of this
  • you’re pregnant and have a temporary exemption which is valid until 16 weeks after you’ve given birth

If you’re exempt because of medical reasons

If you’re exempt from vaccination, your employer shouldn’t ask you to move to another job role.

You might need to apply for an NHS COVID Pass to show your employer. It will prove you can’t get COVID-19 vaccines because of medical reasons.

Once you’ve applied you’ll get a medical exemption form to send to your GP, specialist or midwife. They’ll need to confirm you’re medically exempt - don’t contact them until you’ve got your form. You can check how to apply for an NHS COVID Pass on GOV.UK.

If you’ve self-certified as medically exempt

If you work in a care home and have self-certified as medically exempt from COVID-19 vaccination, your exemption will end on 31 March 2022. You could either:

  • apply for an NHS COVID Pass to show you’re medically exempt from vaccination
  • make sure you’ve had both vaccines by 1 April 2022

You can’t start a new self-certification as the deadline passed on 24 December 2021.

Check what your employer should do

Your employer must discuss what the law means for you. They must still do this if you’re currently away from work - for example, on maternity leave or long-term sickness.

If your employer thinks you must be vaccinated, they should:

  • tell you if your role might require you to be vaccinated
  • ask you for your vaccination status - they have a right to know but they must keep this information secure under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
  • encourage you to get vaccinated and give you information about what it involves
  • give you time to get your vaccines or prove you’re exempt
  • explore options like moving you to another job role - if you’re not exempt from vaccination
  • follow a fair procedure if the only option would be to dismiss you

If you’re not exempt and you’ve decided not to get vaccinated

You could ask your employer if you can take any leave you’re entitled to or unpaid leave if you can afford it. This could give you time to decide whether to get vaccinated or wait for the law to change again. Your employer doesn’t have to agree to this.

If you've left your job and you’re applying for benefits

If you resigned from your job or were dismissed because you refused vaccination, it might affect any new or existing claims you make for benefits. It could affect how much money you get or how soon you’ll get it. To find out how it could affect your benefits, you can talk to an adviser.

Did this advice help?
Why wasn't this advice helpful?

Please tell us more about why our advice didn't help.

Did this advice help?

Thank you, your feedback has been submitted.

Additional feedback