Thousands of employees could face dismissal or problems in being hired if they refuse to be vaccinated, according to research by human resources technology firm HRLocker.
The survey of 750 senior corporate executives based in Ireland and the UK reveals that 40% of respondents would be prepared to dismiss an employee who refused to get vaccinated without a reasonable excuse.
It also discloses that almost a quarter or 23% of organisations polled plan to mandate vaccination for their staff.
A further 51% would encourage employees to get vaccinated but not require it, while 12% were undecided.
The survey suggests that employers are highly conscious of the risk of legal claims whether they make vaccination compulsory or not.
Mandating vaccination could give rise to employee claims for discrimination, unfair dismissal or adverse health reactions to the injection.
However, if employers do not enforce vaccination, they could face claims for failing to fulfil their duty of care to keep employees safe in the workplace.
48% of employers were afraid of legal claims arising from insisting on vaccination, compared to 44% who feared claims from not mandating immunisation.
Respondents suggested that if vaccination were compulsory, there was a 41% risk of an employee backlash leading to a higher churn of workers.
The HRLocker data suggests that “all things being equal”, 49% would hire a vaccinated individual ahead of someone who was not.
To encourage staff to be vaccinated, 40% of managers were prepared to provide resources on where and how to get the jab, 37% would deliver internal communications to promote vaccination, 20% would subsidise the cost of vaccination, and 15% would facilitate walk-in clinics.
Measures of encouragement include providing resources on where and how to get vaccinated (40%), internal communications to promote the benefits of vaccination (37%), subsidising the cost of vaccination (20%) and facilitating walk-in clinics (15%).
The survey was carried out between 14 December and 14 January, as the vaccine was becoming imminent.
540 or 72% of the respondent firms were based in the UK, with 210 or 28% based in Ireland.
Their workforces ranged in number from less than 10 to over 500 employees.
Asked with whom the decision to vaccinate against Covid-19 should sit, an overwhelming majority of 73% suggested it should rest with the individual/ employee, 15% felt the employer should decide, and 12% believe it should be a Government decision.
The survey also revealed that regardless of a successful vaccine, just over half of executives or 51% will continue to offer the option of remote working for staff who do not need to be in the physical workplace.
HRLocker CEO Adam Coleman noted that it would up to each individual company to devise an appropriate strategy for vaccination, depending on the sector in which they were engaged.