Legal restrictions that prevent employers from finding out the coronavirus vaccine status of employees risk delaying the re-opening of offices and are costing businesses money, new research has found.
The issue is also causing a negative impact on relations between a third of employers and their employees, according to the findings of a survey by HRLocker.
"The focus for most businesses now is on re-opening safely," said Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker.
"Whether they adopt a hybrid working model, or desire a full return to the office, what businesses need now is assurance: assurance that their employees can return to the office safely and assurance that they won't be penalised for requesting employees’ vaccination status."
The results found that overall, 71% of the 600 business leaders of firms of all sizes that were surveyed said the legal restrictions on ascertaining employee vaccination status were creating significant challenges.
86% said it was leading to increased costs with regards to legal advice and health and safety requirements, while just over half said it would delay their plans to get their offices re-open and staff back in them again.
One it three respondents said the issue was negatively impacting their relationships with employees, while almost half said they were concerned they would be subject to the legal claims from workers arising from Covid-19.
Less than 10% said they plan to make vaccines mandatory for staff, down from 23% at the start of the year.
While just 15% of those who took part in the survey said they would be willing to fire a member of their workforce who refused to get vaccinated without a reasonable excuse, compared to 40% in January.
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Notwithstanding the concerns, 84% of respondents said it was their belief that their employees want to get back to the office, with almost a similar number indicating that their staff's preference would be to work a part remote part office hybrid arrangement.
The issue of the vaccination of workers is likely to become a significant one in the coming weeks as more businesses start to implement return to office plans for staff.
Yesterday, Australian airline Qantas became the latest company to say all its staff must be vaccinated.
Google and Facebook have also told staff they will require employees returning to the office to have had the Covid jab.
61% of those who took part in the survey said they would like to see the Government make vaccination a necessary requirement, while 85% called for greater guidance on the collection of employee vaccination data.