It’s a big debate at the moment and I am sure for many HR professionals a real challenge in terms of determining their stance around such a sensitive issue. For many sectors this will not have so much impact on their businesses, but for many in the care sector, cleaning and hospitality sectors, it is becoming a real issue. It’s quite shocking to hear how many more companies are requiring for applicants to be vaccinated, as highlighted here in an article in HR Magazine.
The number of job adverts requiring applicants to be vaccinated spiked by 116% between August and September this year.
Nearly 6,000 postings on job site Indeed now list vaccination as a requirement, and almost 10,000 explicitly mention the COVID vaccine.
Care homes, customer service, cleaning and hospitality are the top sectors requesting the vaccine for prospective applicants.
A survey of 402 HR directors by Indeed Flex also found that 70% said they will require staff to be jabbed against COVID-19.
In January this year Charlie Mullins, chairman of London plumbing firm Pimlico Plumbers, faced backlash after announcing that his firm would be mandating vaccines for workers.
In June, the firm also came under scrutiny when it put the vaccine as a requirement on a new job advert.
The challenge in both instances was how the company might treat those who are unvaccinated.
Liz Sebag‑Montefiore, director and co‑founder of HR consultancy company 10eighty, told HR magazine that fair treatment depends on how people teams handle vaccine requirements.
“Pimlico Plumbers chose to go down the route of mandating vaccination to keep business operations running and employees and customers as safe as possible,” she said.
“However, I believe it’s about recommending, rather than requiring vaccinations. It’s important to always have clear communication and open lines of dialogue between employee and employer.
“If employees choose not to be vaccinated, they’ll need to comply with a rigorous regiment of regular testing, wearing masks and practising physical distancing should they choose to return to work.”
It is easier to ask about vaccination status at interview than it is among existing employees said Sebag-Montefiore, but she warned HR to think carefully about why they want that information and what action they intend to take on it before they do.
“As well as data protection and health and safety issues, when asking for vaccination data it is also important to consider discrimination risk,” she added.
Most HRDs surveyed said a worker’s vaccination status would have an impact on their return to the workplace, and a third (33%) said only vaccinated staff would go back.
Just 15% of HRDs said vaccination status would not effect their decisions for staff returning to the workplace.
Jack Beaman, CEO and co-founder of Indeed Flex, added: “Even though a clear majority of HR directors is opting to prioritise staff and customer safety by demanding that all workers be vaccinated, these decisions are not always straightforward.
“With many sectors enduring a full-blown staffing crisis, as the number of available workers fails to keep up with employer demand, those recruiting must also factor in the need to appeal to as wide a pool of candidates as possible.”
As HR professionals what approach and policies are you putting in place to deal with this sensitive issue? The balance between offering safety to others within the workplace by having the vaccination and also allowing people the freedom of choice, is such a delicate balancing act. Be great to hear your thoughts.