Companies believe they should know which employees are vaccinated

Many of Galway’s 8,900+ employers may be wary of collecting vaccination data on employees but 84% of Irish companies believe employers should be aware of who is and isn’t vaccinated.

While many employees are expected to be vaccinated over the summer, fewer than five per cent of employers plan to collect vaccination data on their employees with the majority saying that they had either decided against doing so or have yet to decide.

In contrast, 42% of firms believe that employers need to know who has and has not been vaccinated, with a further 42% believing that employers should know but only where transmission poses a greater risk due to the work environment. Only 16% of firms thought that employers should not have access to such information.

These are some of the headline findings of a new survey (See Appendix ) from the Association of Compliance Officers of Ireland (ACOI ). The survey of more than 300 organisations, answered by ACOI members with responsibility for compliance in financial organisations throughout the country, sought to gain insight into the challenges faced by employers around the rollout of the vaccine over the coming months.

Michael Kavanagh, CEO of ACOI, said the vast majority of respondents (84% ) believe that employers should know who has and who hasn’t received the vaccines, most likely so that they can better organise the workplace and work schedules to keep everyone as safe as possible. Half of that majority felt that the workplace environment and the risk of transmission was a determining factor, while the other 42% felt that employers should know, regardless of the type of workplace.

Galway’s 8,921 employers are facing a minefield in this regard, with the prospect of intruding on privacy issues and the restrictions placed on them by GDPR adding hugely to the challenge presented. 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.”

The ACOI survey reported that while over 70% of employers have yet to decide whether to collect vaccination data, the vast majority believe that GDPR could cause significant issues in the collecting and/or holding of such data.

“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. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer to the challenges posed, and increasing clarity on the issue will be required as more of the workforce begins to avail of the national vaccine rollout over the coming months. In the meantime, 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.”


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