Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
38. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to address a matter (details supplied) in relation to vaccinations in the workplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49891/21]
There will be practical challenges facing employers, and employees, as more workplaces re-open and workers return to the physical workplace.
In relation to the issue of employers determining the vaccination status of their employees the Data Protection Commissioner has made it clear that the matter of checking the vaccination status of an employee would require to be rooted in public health legislation as opposed to health and safety legislation. A balance exists between an employer’s legal obligation to protect the health of their employees and maintain a safe place of work and an employee's right around privacy of their medical information. Fundamentally, the decision to get a vaccination against COVID-19 is voluntary and there are no plans to make vaccinations mandatory.
However, with the high levels of vaccination uptake in Ireland, the majority of the adult population in Ireland are fully vaccinated. This can only offer re-assurance to both employers and employees who are returning to the physical workplace.
Notwithstanding these high levels of vaccination, current public health advice is that all existing COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures must be adhered to whether workers are vaccinated or unvaccinated. Therefore, the control measures set out in the Work Safely Protocol will remain the key focus for employers, business managers and employees.
The Government is also calling on employers, in consultation with their workers, to develop longer-term arrangements for blended or remote working having regard to their operational requirements. In this regard, my Department published, earlier this year, the “Making Remote Work – National Remote Working Strategy” which outlines the vision for the future of remote working in Ireland.