Are you a counsellor or psychological therapist whose job is at risk from the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for NHS Staff?

Are you being discriminated against or pressured to get vaccinated?

Whilst this is a very difficult situation, there is some good news. You are not alone in this situation, and you don’t have to go through it without support.

What is happening in the UK is a first in our legal history, and the vaccine mandates are believed by many lawyers to be in breach of international laws and human rights legislation, as well as several UK domestic laws.

Across the world, millions of people are now pushing back against these discriminatory and legally questionable mandates. There are many positive signs that legislation made at this point may eventually be overturned and deemed unlawful. 

It is worth holding on to this wider perspective when making decisions about medical treatments or the long-term health of your body. After all, a job that is lost could one day be reinstated and compensation awarded. But health that is lost is not always possible to recover.

About This Guide

The following guide is a collection of resources compiled by Therapists for Medical Freedom (TMF) to provide information about what your legal and human rights are in this situation. We also outline some potential ideas for action, largely based on the recent strategies employed by those who work in the UK care sector. 

However, everyone’s situation is different and please be aware that we are not legal professionals and cannot give legal advice on individual situations, nor does this guide constitute professional legal advice.

Please do your own research and seek further advice from employment and legal specialists (many of which we have listed below) before deciding on the best next steps for your own unique situation.

Guide contents:

  1. Don’t Panic
  2. Get Organised
  3. Don’t Quit Your Job – Make them Fire You
  4. Get Support from Therapists for Medical Freedom 
  5. Wider Support Options 
  6. Seek Legal Advice
  7. Join the Workers of England Union
  8. Raise a Grievance / Take Legal Action
  9. Applying for Medical Exemption
  10. Speak Out

 I’ve been told it’s ‘Jab or Job’. What do I do now?

1. Don’t panic!

1. Don’t Panic

Time is on your side. NHS vaccine mandates will not be implemented until the 1st April 2022, so don’t rush out and get the jab or quit your job because you are frightened about the future. Time is on your side, and much could change between now and April 2022.

This means that if you don’t plan to get vaccinated, there is no reason to rush into any immediate action – NHS therapists and other staff have time to gather advice and support before deciding what to do next.

Mandates are already being challenged

There are many legal challenges currently underway in England against the dismissal of care-home workers, in addition to many international lawsuits.  We will hopefully know the outcome of some of these legal cases over the next few months, which can help inform the decisions of NHS workers. We will post any major developments in our newsletter – so make sure you sign up to that.

Get support, get informed

Whilst it might be frightening to think about losing your job and the many consequences of that – remember that the fright is all part of the coercion. In reality, there are many more options available to you than a binary ‘jab or job’ choice.

It is imperative that in this situation you try to stay calm and to hold a sense of perspective.  The easiest way to do this is by accessing support and being well informed about your rights. There are many organisations that can help you navigate this situation, TMF being only one of them. Read on to find out more…

2. Get Organised

2. Get Organised

A good next step for preparing to defend your rights is to gather all the paperwork you have that relates to this issue.

This is a quick win and on a psychological level can help you feel organised and empowered, especially if you’re someone who’s ordinarily not brilliant with paperwork. Getting organised helps to reduce the white noise of the process and helps you to gain a sense of control.

If you do decide to mount a legal challenge in future, you will have all the necessary paperwork in one place before the going gets too psychologically tough.

Gather together in one place:
  • Your contract of employment
  • Your payslips
  • Your company handbook
  • Your complaints / dismissal process
  • Union membership details (if you are a member)
  • Your recent appraisals and performance reviews
  • Positive feedback you’ve had from line managers and colleagues that would demonstrate your competence (useful in case managers resort to smear campaigns rather than firing people)
  • Information about any health care / employee support schemes you belong to – some like Westfield Health have free legal advice included.
  • Recent Occupational health reports
  • Information about your health conditions that could be relevant e.g. a letter confirming an official diagnosis, health care/treatment plans, etc.
  • Any communications you’ve had with your employer around COVID-19 vaccinations – e.g. emails, letters, minutes of team meetings.
  • If you had one COVID-19 vaccine and had an adverse reaction to it, then request that your GP puts on record what happened to you. This can later potentially be used as evidence as to why you don’t want another.
Keep a Paper Trail

If you haven’t already, from this point onward, make sure that any communications around the COVID-19 Vaccination are given to you in writing and you document what is said.

Print out and keep safe any relevant emails in case you ever lose access to your work email account. Follow up any phone call or in-person conversation with an email summary of what was said to you.

Remember: if you are treated unfairly or given misinformation by your employer at this point, report the incident and keep hold of the evidence, as this could give you a stronger legal case in future.

3. Don’t Quit

3. Don’t Quit Your Job – Make them Fire You

The idea of being fired by your employer can be daunting, and many people are nervous about having this on their employment record. Many are already exhausted by the situation or are fearful of the stress involved in the process.

It is tempting in this situation to consider quitting your job, to save yourself the pain and stress of going through the disciplinary process, and being fired for not having had the COVID-19 jab.

Hold the line

Whilst it can seem a stressful prospect, most legal advice around vaccine mandates strongly advises workers not to quit their jobs, and to make your employer go through with firing you. 

This gives you the best chance to protect yourself and shows solidarity with others. If you quit your job prematurely to avoid conflict or stress, you risk giving up many of your future rights for the sake of short-term emotional relief. 

Why most legal advice counsels against quitting your job as a course of action.

You are likely to have far more legal rights and access to compensation / the right to get your job reinstated, if your employer actually fires you and the legislation is later deemed unlawful through a legal challenge.

If you quit before that happens, you will forgo many of your future legal rights.

There are multiple benefits to making your employer go through with firing you. Not only do you have more rights and legal comeback in this situation, but the process will have more of a social impact.

The process is likely to cause your employer significant stress and psychological discomfort – as well as financial expense – which could have a positive ripple effect.

It will cost your employer to fire you

Many employers are just regular people who genuinely care about their staff, and do not want to have to fire you.

If your employers are forced to perpetuate the injustice and witness the distress of the termination process, then there is more chance this will disturb them and eventually lead to positive social change.

If you quit before that point, the emotional distress it causes you will be invisible to many of your colleagues and will be more easily dismissed as being ‘your own choice’. On a national level, the tragedy of your job loss will be absent from the statistics and debate around the issue. 

Furthermore, there is an emotional strength that comes with standing your ground and from the sense of solidarity that you can get from holding the line with other workers. There are many places you can get emotional support whilst you stand your ground. Which is the next section of our guide! 

4. Get Support

4.  Get Support from Therapists for Medical Freedom 

Many psychological therapists whose jobs are at risk have reached out to us because they are feeling frightened, isolated or confused about the vaccine mandates, and what they should do. The good news is that you do not have to go through this alone.

If you are a counsellor or psychological therapist based in the UK, Therapists for Medical Freedom have a range of support options available to support you:

FREE Online Workshop for at-risk NHS Staff

We have organised a FREE online support workshop for counsellors and psychological therapists based in the NHS whose jobs are at risk from the vaccine mandates. 

This will be a blend of practical information and emotional support, as well as a chance to meet other therapists in the same position.  This will be held online at 7.30pm on the 8th of December 2021. It would be great to see you there!

Online Emotional Support Groups: 

TMF Steering Group Member Sue Parker Hall, a psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer, holds regular free online support workshops for therapists who hold an alternative view to the official or mainstream explanation of the COVID-19, or have doubts about our current national response.

These workshops are not specific to the issue of vaccine mandates but are a wonderful source of holding and support in the current situation. They offer a chance to meet like-minded therapists, a place to vent and find positive solutions. 

Wider Support Options

5. Wider Support Options 

There are also many other sources of online and offline support that are not specific to counsellors and therapists. 

Many of these can be found on the Telegram, and so it is well worth installing this app to be able to get up-to-date information.

We have listed a collection of key resources below, but we’d also recommend subscribing to the Freedom Directory, based on Telegram, and attending your local Stand in the Park to find out what support might be available near you.

Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service


The Law Centre Network



Rational Global

Lawyers of Light

Lawyers for Liberty

Reclaim the Law

NHS100k – A Support Group for NHS Staff affected by Mandates



Hart Group

UK Medical Freedom Alliance

Doctors for Covid Ethics


Collateral Global

Doctors Declaration

Nurses speak out

UK Nurses Speak Out

Blow the whistle

British Nursing Alliance

Official Voice Public Sector group

Together Declaration

Big Brother Watch


Informed consent network

Seek Legal Advice

6. Seek Legal Advice 

Knowing your rights will help you feel stronger and in touch with a sense of personal responsibility.

Having a good understanding of the law and your employment rights is also likely to influence your employer in terms of how they treat you over the next few months.

It is much easier to try and intimidate or pressure someone who is isolated, uninformed and feeling confused about their rights – rather than someone who can quote legislation in team meetings and has people advocating on their behalf!

There are two main ways to get legal advice around the Vaccine Mandates, which are outlined below. One is through self-education, and the other is via professional routes. Both are essential for a sense of empowerment and agency in this situation.

Professional Legal Advice

Many of the official law firms that are offering support and representation on this issue are extremely busy at this time and limited in their capacity in terms of offering support and representation. However, it’s worth knowing about different legal support options and potentially making contact with them for support and advice.

ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) can offer advice for employees who want to defend their rights at work, including advice around raising a grievance with your employer.

The Law Society have useful Information on How to Access Free Legal Advice.

Law Work have also published a Guide on Accessing Legal Advice as an Individual, including free and low-cost advice.

Law or Fiction – This is an organisation of qualified lawyers which offers legal support and representation around COVID-19 Legislation and Employment for clients in England and Wales – including personalised initial advice from £246.

Useful Self-Education Resources

Join a Union

7. Consider Joining the Workers of England Union

It should go without saying that if you are already a member of a trade union, now is the time to contact them for advice, support and representation in this situation. Many trade unions are officially opposed to the Mandates, including Unison.

However, some therapists are reporting that they are struggling to access helpful support from their union in the current circumstances, partly because of the social polarisation around COVID-19 and the strong support of COVID-19 restrictions / vaccination programme by the unions.

If that has been the case for you,  or if you are not currently a union member, then it might be worth considering joining the Workers of England Union. They are doing excellent work in terms of representing workers who are affected by vaccine mandates.

A Union that Defends Individual Rights

Under UK law, you are allowed to be a member of more than one union, so you don’t need to quit your existing union in order to be able to join.

At the time of publication, there is no minimum length of time you are required to be a member of the Workers of England Union before they will represent you.

Workers of England Union are able to offer representation to members, including support with raising grievances against employers who are enforcing the vaccine mandates. Their website and social channels are also an excellent source of legal information, support and solidarity.

The YouTube video below is a useful interview with a representative from the Workers of England Union. It includes information about raising a grievance with your employer and the most important steps you can take in the coming weeks:

Take Action

8. Raise a Grievance / Take Legal Action

Employment Lawyer Anna De Buisseret recommends that workers hold the line in relation to the Vaccine Mandates. She suggests that workers get support to learn their fundamental rights, and that they follow existing legal processes designed to protect you in the workplace.

She recommends a two step approach:

  1. Insist on an Individual Risk Assessment on the proposed changes to your contract (i.e. the Mandated COVID-19 Vaccinations) before you are able to make a decision with informed consent.This must be conducted by a Qualified Occupational Health Physician. It should involve an in-depth, evidence-based, risk/benefit analysis based on your individual medical history, including any likely implications for pre-existing conditions you might have.
  2. If your employer refuses to carry out an Individual Risk Assessment under the proper conditions, if they insist on using a blanket risk assessment for the whole company, or the risk assessment they conduct is unsatisfactory, you can then raise a formal grievance with your employer.

If you are interested in taking this line of action – this video has a much more detailed outline of the process she proposes taking, and the thinking behind it:

Applying for a Medical Exemption

9. Applying for a Medical Exemption

If you have a health condition that could be impacted by COVID-19 vaccinations, applying for a Medical Exemption is another option available to you, especially if you have any kind of safety concerns.

In many countries where vaccine mandates have been rolled out, medical exemptions have often been hard to obtain, even with solid evidence of a pre-existing health condition that could be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 Vaccination, or for which there is limited long-term safety data.

In the UK, it looks likely to be similarly challenging. The following information is taken from the official government guidelines:

The possible reasons for exemptions are limited. Examples that might be reasons for a medical exemption are:

  • people receiving end of life care where vaccination is not in the person’s best interests
  • people with learning disabilities or autistic individuals, or people with a combination of impairments where vaccination cannot be provided through reasonable adjustments
  • a person with severe allergies to all currently available vaccines
  • those who have had an adverse reaction to the first dose (for example, myocarditis)

Other medical conditions could also allow you to get a medical exemption.

Detailed guidelines are as yet unclear 

Whilst this seems an extremely narrow list of eligible conditions, we don’t know the reality of how the system will work in the UK. There is very limited information about what ‘other medical conditions’ might be seen as acceptable grounds for exemption, for example, might it include mental health conditions or other chronic disabilities?

In the UK, our Mask exemptions were relatively liberal compared to some other countries, partly because of the impact of our Equality Act legislation. So, it is possible that in the UK, medical exemptions for vaccination will be more readily available than in other countries. But the truth is, we simply don’t know.

Timing is important

In England, you will only be able to apply for a medical exemption once, with no right to appeal if you are declined. Therefore, it could be worth waiting as long as possible within the time deadline before applying for one, so you can build a strong case and benefit from the learning of workers in other sectors about what approaches to applying for an exemption are likely to be successful in England.

The worst they can say is no

Even if you think you are unlikely to be granted a medical exemption because your health condition isn’t included in the list above (for example if you have psychological grounds such as anxiety or stress), or if you feel that you only have a mild health condition –  it still might be worth applying for a medical exemption, even if it is declined.

The fact that you applied for an exemption could later serve to strengthen your legal case if you are fired and your exemption denial is deemed retrospectively unlawful, or if it is later proved that the COVID-19 Vaccination did have harmful side effects for people with your condition.

Read the Guidelines for applying for medical exemptions on the UK government website.


10. Speak Out – Tell your Story

There are many misconceptions about people who have chosen not to get vaccinated. Many of these revolve around slurring people as being selfish, stupid, ignorant, conspiracy theorists, anti-science, or simply reckless.

If you are a therapist faced with job loss, then speaking out and sharing  the truth of your story can be a powerful way to counteract the misinformation, cultural stigma and discrimination. Speaking out in a supported way can also help free you from feelings of shame or the effects of being silenced.

Courage calls to courage, and therapists who are speaking out about this issue could inspire others who are feeling isolated or scared to defend their rights and to resist medical coercion.

Anyone is welcome to share their story by writing an article for the Therapists for Medical Freedom Blog.

We are also interested in supporting therapists in this situation to speak out via interviews and as part of our case studies and activism. If you’d like to get involved by using your experiences to raise public awareness of this issue, please get in touch with us to discuss how you’d like to be more involved.

We hope this has been useful and grounding information to help you think about some possible next steps you could take in this difficult situation.

Please do come along to our Free Vaccine Mandates support workshop for counsellors and therapists, it would be great to see you there. And if you know of any other good resources that we’ve not included in this guide, please do write to us and let us know about them.

In Solidarity,

Therapists for Medical Freedom.

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