The Government has confirmed that employers cannot ask staff about their vaccination status as they return to the workplace.
The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this afternoon published the updated Work Safely Protocol as businesses across the country prepare to welcome workers back to the office.
The previous protocol published earlier in the year, noted that employers could “redeploy” workers to other tasks if they were not vaccinated.
However, the Data Protection Commissioner then warned that companies could not ask workers about their vaccination status while some human rights lawyers argued that people could not be excluded from work based on their status.
In a statement accompanying the updated protocols the Government noted: “As vaccination is not mandatory in Ireland, and there are no plans to make it so, employers cannot currently require staff to reveal their vaccination status.”
“The Government is confident that the guidance set out here, in addition to the exceptionally high vaccination rate of our adult population, will keep workers safe as they return to the office.”
The protocol encourages employers to read the DPC advice as “the processing or requesting of information on an individual’s vaccination status may not be appropriate.”
It encourages employers to provide advice and information to workers can “make an informed decision” on vaccination.
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Work Safely Protocol
Minister Varadkar said the biggest change since the last version of the protocol was published is the “success of our vaccination programme.”
“We are now one of the best in the world for vaccine uptake and expect to exceed 90% of people over 16 double-jabbed within days,” he said.
“Notwithstanding this success however, we still need everyone to play their part to keep Covid under control so as we reopen, we stay open and businesses have the chance to get back on their feet and workers back to work.”
He encouraged employers to work with staff on flexible working arrangements.
“Although the public health advice no longer recommends working from home, I hope employers are speaking to their staff to figure out what works best for them and the business,” he said.
“We really want to see remote working become a permanent fixture of Irish working life. The pandemic has shown us that it can be done and I hope we can learn from what worked and incorporate it post-Covid.”
The HSA will remain the lead agency in enforcing compliance with the Work Safely protocol.
The Government said 43,000 Covid-19 inspections have been carried out since May 2020.