UNISON has called on the Government to abandon mandatory COVID vaccination and provide urgent funding so that all care workers receive at least the real living wage.
Care home staff must receive the first vaccination by September 16 if they are to meet the mandatory requirement to be fully vaccinated by November 11.
The Government has estimated that up to 70,000 care workers could lose their jobs as a result of the requirement.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Vaccination remains the way out of the pandemic. But coercing and bullying people can never be the right approach.
“Ministers have been told repeatedly that using force instead of persuasion will fail. But they’ve not listened and now their ill-considered policy is backfiring.
“The Government is sleepwalking into this disaster by not acting. Care is already a broken and underfunded sector that cannot afford to lose any more staff.
“The Government must scrap the ‘no jab, no job’ rule now. Widespread care home closures could be the consequence if they ignore the warnings. This would be disastrous for elderly people and those who cannot live without care support.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the social care workforce and are working with local authorities and providers to ensure we have the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands.
“The vast majority of care staff are already vaccinated and we are focusing on encouraging even more staff to get jabbed to protect their colleagues and those they care for.
“Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes.”
UNISON is also backing the #BetterPay4SocialCare coalition’s call for an urgent cash injection to boost pay to at least the real living wage rate of £9.50 an hour (£10.85 in London), and attract recruits to what are crucial and skilled roles.
An online petition by the #BetterPay4SocialCare coalition can be signed here.