New research warns that employers may face challenges when it comes to overseas staff as a result of the differences in global vaccine programmes, which differs from country to country.  

A new analysis by Towergate Health and Protections emphasises the need for employers to be acutely aware of the circumstances in each country in which they have staff, regarding the vaccine rollout.

While the vaccine programme has forged ahead in the UK – with latest figures showing over 84 million vaccines have been administered – other countries may be facing a different situation.

The research also highlights disparity between how effective different COVID-19 vaccines are.

While the Pfizer vaccine, approved in 97 countries including the UK, Canada, US, and Singapore, is estimated to be 95 per cent effective, Sinovac, for example, approved in China, Mexico, Oman, and 39 other countries, has from 50 per cent to 91 per cent efficacy.

There have also been differences between what percentage of the population have been vaccinated, the study finds.

In UAE, this is over two-thirds (68 per cent) whilst in Italy, this is currently under half (48 per cent). In Russia, this number falls to under a fifth (16 per cent).

As such, the research highlights that there are a multitude of various factors which UK employers, who have staff based globally, need to be aware of.

The study also advises employers to keep a close eye on the protocols of visiting different countries.

It finds that, although the UK may have lifted the ban on international travel, many countries have their own rules about allowing nationals to travel to the UK. This has the potential to create problems for employers who are hoping to get overseas staff vaccinated here.

Furthermore, if staff are permitted to travel to the UK, there are logistical problems that must be faced including questions about the cost of quarantining and what staff will do if they do not have a place to stay in the UK.

The research advises employers to be vigilant and aware of the rules which are in constant flux.

Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection explains:

Employers with staff already abroad, or those considering their options for returning employees to overseas posts, need to understand the issues surrounding Covid, the vaccination roll out, and how best to support their people in the field.

Overseas work is currently a minefield of misinformation and lack of detail. Employers need to be confident that they are keeping employees safe and not putting their own reputation at risk.