Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic back in early 2020, much of the talk has been around vaccinations. The incredible push to get people vaccinated continues, as much of North America looks to reopen workplaces and welcome their employees back into the office. That has sparked the latest question, and much debate, about whether or not employers should be asking their workforce to complete vaccination attestation forms?
As of mid-July, over 55% of Americans have had at least one dose of a vaccine, while over 48% are fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic vaccine tracker.
Meanwhile, in Canada, over 69% of the population has had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 45% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to the government’s vaccine tracker.
The discussion is now turning to vaccine passports and health attestations, and whether or not employers should be requesting that information from their employees. While some organizations have already set processes in place to require employees to complete health questionnaires and surveys in order to come to work, there has yet to be a full wide vaccine attestation requirement.
Leading organizations, however, are already taking a stand that proof of vaccination may and will be required to return to work in the future.
Vaccination attestation garners strong support
In a recent study by Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, they found that 88% of employers plan to require or encourage their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The study also found that 60% of employers will require employees to demonstrate proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The strong support for vaccination attestation is led by employers concerned for the safety and health of their workforce, as mental health and well-being are considered the top priority for many leading organizations. Businesses are trying to avoid outbreaks in their locations that can slow down production and cause reputational loss if a mass outbreak occurs.
In the study, they asked what the consequences for a lack of compliance with a vaccination policy would be:
- 44% - Not allowed to return to the physical work environment
- 31% - Disciplinary action up to termination
- 27% - Change of work responsibilities
- 15% - No consequences
- 1% - Other
So, employers are signaling that vaccination attestation will be part of their workforce's health and safety plans moving forward.
The hybrid workforce is the ‘new normal’
The workforce is changing, in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed many businesses into remote working environments. Some businesses are going to continue with that approach. According to the study, 63% of employers are going to allow their employees to work from home full-time through 2021.
Others are going to adopt the hybrid approach, allowing employees to work from home part-time, and the other time they will be in the office space. The report says that 41% of employers describe their future work environment as hybrid, and 72% said they intend to offer more flexibility and expand work-from-home policies.
Hybrid working environments are risky working environments, as employees return at different intervals and have different exposures. This is one of the main reasons why vaccination attestation is trending forward, so employers know who have been vaccinated in their workforce, and can be allowed back to the office safely to mitigate the risk.
This hybrid approach to working is why employers need to look at their own employees in the same way they look at contractors. That’s because they are coming to the office at varying times, generally for specific tasks and appointments, and may sign-in and out multiple times a day or week, depending on their job. Having their proof of vaccination on file through a visitor management system can streamline the hybrid approach, as employees can complete vaccination attestation forms and those can be stored on record to allow easy entrance.
The growing contingent workforce
Employees are not the only members of the workforce who will be coming in periodically, as contingent workers and contractors will also be coming on-site for specific tasks. They invite risk in as well and in order to keep employees safe, employers will want to know if these workers are vaccinated too.
Contractors can require many forms of identification to come to a site, such as insurance papers, certifications, and certificates, and for compliance reasons, they may need to prove they can work at heights and have background checks completed. Vaccination attestation is the next step because employers don’t want unvaccinated contingent workers besides their employees.
These workers move from location to location, working with many different clients, so their risk is even greater because they have a higher chance of infection due to multiple interactions. Requiring vaccination attestation forms and making it part of their entry process ensures that your entire workforce is protected.
Vaccination attestation is a growing part of visitor management
Employers are taking the vaccination effort seriously. They are requiring proof of vaccination, and 59% of the study respondents said they would incentivize employees to be vaccinated, with 84% saying they would allow vaccinations to be administered at their facility.
Vaccination attestation is now part of a much larger health and safety policy, and more organizations are making changes to their safety policy as broad vaccination is achieved. Much like other compliance measures, vaccination attestation forms are being included in visitor management systems for employees, visitors, contractors, and contingent workers to complete before entry -- this could include providing a photo of a vaccination record card for example. Additionally, many organizations are looking for flexible options or multi-factor screening, so some deployments might also accept a negative COVID-19 test result or further health screenings, for those who do not want to (or can not) be vaccinated.
Persons who choose not to get a vaccination, and don’t show proof of negative tests or vaccination records, can be added to internal watchlists, and as the study reported, have their job reassigned, have their duties changed, or even lose their job if they can’t access the facility.
It’s a polarizing question and debate, but leading organizations are taking vaccination seriously as part of their health and safety policy. With the disruptions over the past year, for some employers, this is a way to get things back to normal and keep the workforce safe, as quickly as possible.