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Legal costs around asking employees’ vaccine status a worry for bosses

Over half of employers surveyed by HRLocker said they had delayed office reopening plans until the Government could provide further clarity.

Vaccination status is a major hurdle for Irish offices reopening, according to a study by software solutions company HRLocker.

HRLocker, which is based in Co Clare,  surveyed 600 businesspeople across Ireland between early July and early August to find out about their reopening plans and how they were managing employee vaccination status.

Most of the respondents were CEOs, HR directors and managing directors, who said that the legal restrictions around asking an employee about their vaccination status was a concern.

Laws around privacy which prevent an employer from asking employees about their vaccination status are creating significant challenges for 71pc of those surveyed seeking to reopen their offices.

The majority (85pc) are calling on the Government to provide clarity as to whether or not they will be required to ask workers for proof of vaccination before they are allowed to let them back into offices.

“The focus for most businesses now is on reopening safely. Whether they adopt a hybrid working model, or desire a full return to the office, what businesses need now is assurance: assurance that their employees can return to the office safely and assurance that they won’t be penalised for requesting employees’ vaccination status,” Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker commented.

Over half (53pc) had delayed office reopening plans until they receive further clarity from the Government, with 86pc citing legal costs as a major barrier to their plans.

The business leaders were also concerned about employee morale and welfare, with 34pc responding that they believed the vaccination issue had negatively impacted relations with their staff.

Most respondents (84pc) said they believed employees did wish to return to offices eventually.

When asked whether they would dismiss an employee who was not vaccinated or refused to get vaccinated without a reasonable excuse, 15pc said they would. This is a significant drop from 40pc in a similar survey by HRLocker completed in January.

As for mandating vaccines, 8pc said they planned to do this – which was down from 23pc in January. The majority of respondents (61pc) replied that they wanted the Government to make vaccines a necessary requirement for employees who want to go back to offices.

In response to demand from their clients, HRLocker has added a GDPR compliant employee vaccination status tracker to its software platform. The tracker can store and process relevant information pertaining to employees’ vaccination status in accordance with the advice of the Data Protection Commissioner.

“We’re putting measures in place now to ensure our clients are in the best possible position if, and when, Government guidance on vaccine status-checks is updates to support businesses. However, it is imperative that employers seek legal advice to ensure their compliance with all regulatory and industry requirements and that the use of data is fair, relevant and necessary for a specific purpose,” Coleman concluded.

Legal costs around asking employees’ vaccine status a worry for bosses was last modified: August 19th, 2021 by Ronan McDonnell

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