Coronavirus vaccinations causing conflict over employee privacy and safety

Over half (52%) of HR leaders have said they intend to track employees' coronavirus vaccinations according to a new report from Gartner.

Only 8% said they will require employees to show proof of vaccinations, such as a vaccine passport, however 36% said they plan to have employees self-report their vaccination status.

While declaring if they have been vaccinated or not could be a breach of employee privacy, HR respondents said it is necessary to combat the uncertainty surrounding safety when returning to the office.

Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice, said companies are trying to strike a balance between privacy and information by asking employees to self-report their vaccination status.

He told HR magazine: “For companies that pursue this approach, one of the key things that they need to be aware of is that the data they collect might be inaccurate. 

“Some employees will report that they have been vaccinated, when they haven’t, because they believe that saying they have the vaccine is a critical step in allowing them to return to work.” 

Kropp said other employees will simply not get around to providing the information to their employer. 

“While the self-reported data is helpful, it should be treated with caution,” he said.

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If safety of the office is still in question there is likely to be a significant uptake in employees choosing to continue remote working after the pandemic.

The majority of organisations are planning for a hybrid workforce, as 59% of HR leaders said their organisation will let employees work remote occasionally with approval from their manager. This is a 21% increase from November 2020.

Kropp said: “Given the uncertainty that will exist around vaccination status, most organisations that reopen will do so with social distancing and mask wearing in place.

“However, regardless of reopening plans, only 1% of the HR leaders we surveyed expect all of their employees to work full-time in the office.”

Gartner surveyed 227 HR leaders on their plans to reopen the workplace once the pandemic restrictions are lifted.