A woman is getting vaccinated by a health professional wearing blue surgical gloves.
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Survey: One in four firms want to make Covid vaccine mandatory

25 Jan 2021

In a HRLocker survey of 750 business leaders across Ireland and the UK, 40pc said they would be willing to fire an employee if they refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

HR tech firm HRLocker has published findings of a survey that asked 750 business leaders in Ireland and the UK about making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees.

Almost one-quarter of the CEOs, CHROs, managing directors and HR directors surveyed said they plan to make vaccination compulsory for their staff to return to the workplace.

Half of respondents said they wouldn’t make vaccination a requirement but would encourage it among their staff, and 12pc said they hadn’t decided on their policy yet. Respondents said they would encourage employees to get vaccinated by providing information on where and how to receive the vaccine, leveraging internal communications to promote its benefits and facilitating walk-in clinics.

Whether a worker decides to get vaccinated or not could potentially impact their future employment opportunities. Of the business leaders who took part in the survey, 40pc said they would be willing to dismiss an employee who refused to get the vaccine while 49pc said they would hire a vaccinated person over someone who had not received it.

When it comes to the legal consequences of workplace vaccination policies, 48pc of leaders said they are worried about legal claims arising from making a vaccine compulsory. However, 44pc said the same about not making it a requirement.

HRLocker said that by enforcing vaccinations, companies are worried they could face claims of discrimination, unfair dismissal and adverse reactions. Choosing to make the vaccine optional, however, is making them worry about failing to fulfil their duty of care in the workplace.

The survey also asked the companies who the decision to vaccinate against Covid-19 should rest with. Almost three-quarters agreed it should sit with the individual, while 15pc said the employer should decide and 12pc said it should be up to the Government.

Whatever route companies decide on, HRLocker emphasised the need for clear communication about vaccination policies. “Last year, much of the focus was placed on introducing systems and processes to enable business continuity,” said HRLocker’s CEO, Adam Coleman.

“Now, as employers, I think we need to start placing people at the centre of our strategies and decision making. That starts with clear and open communication.”

However, employment law expert Alan Hickey recently told the Irish Independent that there is “no legal basis for mandatory vaccination policies”. Hickey believes that employers will be “on shaky ground if they seek to make vaccination a condition of employment”.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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