Most employers want to know whether their staff are vaccinated

Most employers want to know whether their staff are vaccinated

'Employers are facing a minefield' in relation to data protection as the vaccination programme rolls out.

While 80% of adults are expected to have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine by the end of June, the majority of employers want to know whether or not their employees will be getting the vaccine.

According to a recent study, 84% of firms believe that employers must know if their employees are vaccinated, with half of those saying employers should know but only where transmission poses a greater risk to the work environment.

Findings from the Association of Compliance Office Ireland (ACOI) show that 70% of over 300 companies surveyed have not yet discussed whether they will collect vaccine data from their employees, but 5% say they will be asking employees to disclose such information.

ACOI CEO Michael Kavanagh said “employers are facing a minefield” in relation to data protection over the coming months as organisations plan a return to the workplace.

“GDPR wasn’t written with a pandemic in mind and, consequently, over half of compliance professionals believe that the GDPR legislation will either need to be amended or clear guidance will need to be issued,” said Mr Kavanagh.

“There was a fairly even split in the results between those who felt it will be possible to collect vaccination data under the current GDPR legislation once clear guidelines are put in place (39%) and those who felt that GDPR compliance will make it very difficult.”

A further 20% felt that GDPR will have to be modified in order to make a system work.

Return to the workplace

Return to workplace life is not yet in the near future, with deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn warning workers not to take school reopenings "as a signal to return to the workplace".

There is a call for increased clarity on the issue as the workforce begins to increasingly avail of the vaccine rollout over the coming months; however, Mr Kavanagh advised employers, in the meantime, to fully comply with GDPR.

“Employers should remain vigilant to compliance with the Covid Work Safety Protocol, consider their communication strategy, and plan their approach to a gradual return to the workplace. 

"They should also ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibilities in relation to employee data processing under GDPR as it currently stands,” he said.

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