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Peter Jones

Expert opinion: Can I request the vaccination status of my employees?

Both data collection and immunisation have been key safety measures for people and businesses. It’s understandable then, that some employers are querying whether they can request and record vaccination status from their employees.

Certain businesses have been advised by government to request that visitors and staff “check-in” each time they attend the premises. This includes hospitality and leisure venues, community centres and those providing close contact services,

The data collected must comply with UK GDPR, and should only be used to help NHS Track and Trace locate anyone who could have come into close contact with Covid-19.

In England, it is no longer a legal requirement to collect this data, much like the wearing of face coverings. However, many businesses continue to follow the recommendation.

At this stage in the pandemic, the vaccination programme is well underway. Covid or Immunity Passports are being issued for fully vaccinated people to travel with less restrictions. They are also expected to be introduced for “high risk” situations in England that attract large crowds.

Both data collection and immunisation have been key safety measures for people and businesses. It’s understandable then, that some employers are querying whether they can request and record vaccination status from their employees.

For care homes in England, Covid vaccination will be a legal requirement for staff, visiting professionals and tradespeople from November 11.

For other businesses, there is still some ambiguity over the collection of vaccination status and the legalities of a “no jab, no job” policy.

So, even if you’re not planning to make vaccinations mandatory in your business, can you ask staff if they have had the vaccine?

The Information Commissioner’s Office states that, as vaccination status is classed as special category data, use of such data must be clear, necessary, and transparent. In other words, make sure that you really need it and are able to justify this before you collect it.

There are risks involved, which a full risk assessment can help you to identify. For starters you’d need to ensure that your methods of data collection are compliant with data protection laws.

Employers also have a responsibility to protect their staff from discrimination and should err on the side of caution when recording vaccination status.

Some people will not get vaccinated for personal or medical reasons and must not be treated any differently to their vaccinated co-workers.

Keep in mind that the pandemic has been a dynamic situation and so there is a chance that official guidance on the matter can change at short notice.