Everything you need to know about tracking employee COVID-19 vaccinations

Everything you need to know about tracking employee COVID-19 vaccinations
By Anthony Wolny | 28th May 2021 | 3 min read

Think back to December 2020, when that first glimmer of hope of a return to normality emerged, thanks to the NHS roll out of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines.

Now fast forward to the present day – all vulnerable groups have received both doses of the vaccine, and a wider programme is taking place.

While the increased vaccine availability is fantastic news and a step towards regaining our freedom, it’s also created a new consideration for employers.

Businesses now need to ask themselves, ‘should we be tracking employee COVID-19 vaccinations?’

For some, tracking employee vaccinations may be the obvious next step in assuring a safe work environment, while for others, it may seem like a breach of privacy.

To help your business make the right decision, we’ve covered all the points that you need to consider, so you can determine if you should be tracking employee COVID-19 vaccinations.

Why would you track employee vaccinations?

By tracking COVID-19 vaccinations within your workforce, you can achieve a wide array of HR benefits, such as:

Assessing who is most at risk

If your office faced a COVID-19 outbreak, by having data on which employees are vaccinated, you’d be able to respond and protect those most at risk far more effectively.

Duty of care

For businesses that don’t have the luxury of offering hybrid working, it’s their duty of care to ensure the workplace is as safe as possible and keeping track of vaccinations can help with that goal.

Appeasing your board

In most cases, your board of directors will want to see you actively taking steps to ensure safety, so tracking vaccinations and showing the data can provide them with added confidence.

Can you ask if an employee has been vaccinated?

Yes, you’re entitled to ask if an employee has received their vaccination, although you must have a good and lawful reason to do so, such as workplace safety.

Mandatory tracking based on your sector

For those that operate in the food, service, and care industry, vaccinations play an enormous role in keeping operations safe for both employees and clients.

In these sectors, the vaccine is crucial to keeping everyone safe when handling food, having in-person interactions with customers, or caring for the vulnerable.

So, if employees can’t do their job safely without being vaccinated, then you have the right to make the tracking mandatory.

What if an employee refuses to answer?

If an employee refuses to answer and what you're asking is a reasonable management instruction, the next step would be to conduct a disciplinary.

But if you’re taking this route, be sure that your reason for asking is full proof, as employees may turn to legal advice.

Offering the option to not answer

If the vaccination isn’t necessarily vital to your employees’ roles, but you want to ensure that your workplace is safe, then you’re still able to ask if they’ve had the vaccine.

However, we suggest that you don’t make it mandatory and instead offer the option for people to decline.

This way, you’re able to gather data without placing the business in a difficult position should an employee become agitated and wish to involve a tribunal.

Complying with data protection

The information you’d gather from tracking employee vaccinations falls under personal information and should be treated with great care to comply with GDPR and data protection.

When collecting data, we advise that you have a policy document and data risk assessment covering the processing to ensure compliance with key data protection policies, including:

  • Transparency
  • Data minimisation
  • Security

For more information on gathering vaccination data compliantly, check out the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

How can businesses collect vaccination data?

If you’re looking to track employee vaccinations compliantly and efficiently, we advise that you use cloud-based HR software.

Manually requesting this information from employees will be incredibly time-consuming and prone to issues with data protection.

But with HR software, you can create workflows within the system that automates the data request to save you time while also storing the information securely in the cloud.

How can IRIS help?

Our flexible software, IRIS Cascade HRi, enables your business to streamline and automate vaccination tracking, including the date the jab was given and the brand, and the option to not answer (if that’s what you want).

For more information and to book a demo, click here.