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Most Organizations Will Encourage but Not Require Employee Vaccination

Most Organizations Will Encourage but Not Require Employee Vaccination

March 1, 2021
Gartner survey shows just 8% of firms plan to require mandatory vaccination prior to returning to the workplace.

As the debate continues as to whether or not companies will require employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations, a new Gartner study showed that 71% of organizations plan to encourage employees to get vaccinated before returning to the workplace, but will not require it, according to Gartner, Inc.

“Mandating vaccination is a complex decision from a legal perspective,” said Chris Audet, senior director in the Gartner Legal and Compliance practice in a statement. “Any decision to mandate will be dependent on a business necessity and must account for exceptions. In some cases, requiring the vaccine may be a strategic decision to create a comparative advantage for the organization.”

Sixty-one percent of respondents intend to provide resources to employees on where and how to get vaccinated, and approximately half said they will create an internal communications campaign on the benefits and/or subsidize the costs of the vaccine for employees (see Figure 1.)

One of the reasons that most organizations are not considering mandating vaccinations for their employees is due to the many difficulties associated with this requirement. A major concern is due to the privacy burden of collecting and storing such medical information which is beyond the scope of what most organizations are equipped to handle, explains Gartner. Additionally, the procedural challenges associated with tracking vaccination status are also considerable.

“For now, most organizations don’t see the benefits of mandating vaccination as outweighing its potential costs,” said  Audet. “Even tracking who has had a vaccine has many challenges, so the majority of respondents are not planning on that step either.”

Fifty-three percent had no plans to track who has received a vaccine, while a quarter of respondents will ask employees to self-report their vaccination status but not require proof. Only 6% of respondents planned to require employees to show proof of vaccination before they return to work.

Hybrid workforce

In the survey respondents didn’t envision a return to 2019 working practices even with the availability of the vaccine.  More than half think less than 50% of their employees will want to return to the workplace, which will lead to a hybrid workforce that will continue past the pandemic. Just 9% think that 76%-100% of their workforce want to return to the office.

“Legal and compliance leaders need to re-evaluate the ‘band-aid’ policy fixes put in place in 2020 in areas such as remote work,” said  Audet. “Many of the changes that seemed temporary at the time have become established ways of working, and it’s crucial to ensure that the legal policies and procedures put in place at the start of the pandemic are suitable for the long-term.”

The study found that most legal and compliance leaders don’t foresee a return to normal business operations until at least Q3-Q4 2021, with many of those predictions being pushed back to “sometime in 2022” in the latest surveys. Even when the vaccine is widely available 60% of respondents still anticipate keeping all workplace safety measures they have in place, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

“Legal and HR leaders are generally taking a wait-and-see approach,” said  Audet. “They want to learn more about the efficacy of the vaccines in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the speed at which the public can be vaccinated before rolling back safety precautions.”

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