90% of businesses want guidance on worker vaccination data, survey finds

Majority surveyed say they do not intend putting vaccination strategy in place

Nine out of 10 Irish business is looking to the Data Protection Commission (DPC) to issue guidelines on the collection of data about workers' vaccination status.

The calls come as 94 per cent of businesses say they have no employee vaccination strategy in place. And the majority say they have no intention of putting one in place.

"The results have highlighted a demand amongst respondents for guidance on how employers collect and process their employee's vaccination information - or indeed, if they do so at all," said Michael Kavanagh, chief executive of the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland, which carried out the survey.

He said there was a sense of urgency about the issue, with close to half of respondents agreeing that guidance should be issued as soon as possible, with a further 42 per cent suggesting it is required over summer.


As it stands, Mr Kavanagh said, employers simply do not know how to proceed.

“There is a danger here that employers may not give proper attention to this important issue unless proper and timely guidance is issued,” he said.

The survey follows data released last week showing that nearly 60 per cent of employers would like the right to ask an employee if they have received a Covid-19 vaccine.

A study by human resource organisation CIPD Ireland and Industrial Relations News also found that 39 per cent of employers believe they should have the right to ask a worker for proof of vaccination.

Return to workplace

With the vaccination rollout progressing, employers are aware that the issue will become more pressing as they consider how to structure a return to the workplace for staff who have worked from home for the past year or more.

“Perhaps there is a feeling among employers that this won’t be as important an issue while staff are working remotely,” he said. “But complacency is not an option. GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] on the topic of employee vaccinations has the potential to become a highly contentious area of compliance for firms.

“And the processing of health data, in particular, has important implications under GDPR legislation.”

Mr Kavanagh said it was advising companies and organisations that one immediate step they can take even ahead of DPC guidance vaccination data is to ensure their employee privacy policy is reviewed. “It can then be ready to be updated once the DPC issues any guidance,” he said.