New research highlights how the coronavirus vaccine will affect the future of work. Nine in 10 HR leaders have stated they will still allow employees to work from home even after the vaccine. 

Gartner, the research and advisory company, have released a new study which analyses how the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine will affect the future of work.

Despite remote working occurring at the start of the year as a response to the rapid spread of the global pandemic, the majority of companies would retain this policy despite the vaccine roll-out. Overwhelmingly, nine in 10 HR leaders (90 per cent) stated that they would be prepared to allow employees to work from home, at least part of the time.

Additionally, a further two-thirds of respondents (65 per cent) reported that their organisation will continue to offer flexibility on when they work.

However, half of leaders (50 per cent) predicted that their workforce would want to return to the workplace, at least part-time, after the vaccine is made widely available.

Around six in ten HR leaders (60 per cent) confessed that they would encourage their employees to receive the vaccine but would not force them to do so. To accompany this, the same number (60 per cent) reported that they will provide resources to employees on how and where to get vaccinated.

Furthermore, the vast majority of employers will err on the side of caution with almost two-thirds (62 per cent) planning to continue all safety measures that they have put in place even once the vaccine is rolled out on a large-scale.

However, a third of employers will not take these precautions and would no longer require masks or social-distancing measures in the office.

Elisabeth Joyce, Vice Preside of Advisory in the Gartner HR practice, said:

With a COVID-19 vaccine rollout approaching, HR leaders are now faced with an onslaught of questions, including if they can or should require employees to be vaccinated, what the employer’s responsibility is in helping employees and their families get vaccinated, and how the release of vaccines impacts their return-to-the-workplace strategy.

Right now, organisations are considering different policies for employees who receive the vaccine and those who do not. What is most critical is that HR leaders are making these decisions with the expectation that they may need to course correct as we learn more.

While there are concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine, including privacy and data security, ultimately, there are many factors involved in making decisions around an organisation’s vaccination strategy, including local government regulations. Therefore, it is critical that HR leaders work closely with their legal and compliance partners.

Karen Holden, CEO at A City Law Firm, outlined the legal issues surrounding the vaccine:

As such to date there is no legal power to force a COVID-19 vaccine on the public as a whole.

There may be specific workplace grounds to mandate a vaccine as a condition of employment. However, employers must be careful in ensuring it is essential and not just COVID safe work arrangements. The bar for this is likely to be very high and limited to healthcare workers and those providing similar services.

As there is currently no real legal basis to have your employees vaccinated, it is advised that employers do not force this. There are many different and complicated reasons why an employee may not wish to be vaccinated and an employer is opening themselves up to a whole host of litigation if they mandate vaccines. Dismissing an employee for refusing a vaccine may constitute unfair dismissal.

*This research was taken from Gartner who surveyed 130 HR leaders on December 9th.