By the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management
Conducted in February 2022, the Quick Poll on Vaccine Pass & Unvaccinated Employees surveyed 194 institute members and other HR professionals whose completed questionnaires were featured in the analyses.
Organisations’ vaccination strategy
The fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the HKSAR Government to further tighten the restrictions on vaccination requirements, such as requesting civil servants to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 16 May 2022. Simultaneously, most companies did not implement a mandatory vaccination policy. The most adopted vaccination strategy among the respondents is encouraging the employees to get vaccinated instead of making it compulsory (63%), followed by providing no official guideline or policy regarding vaccination (20%), while only 11% of the respondents replied that vaccination was mandatory for all employees in their organisation.
When asked why did their company not implement mandatory vaccination policy, 68% of the respondents concurred that employees should be free to choose whether or not to get vaccinated. Respondents also demonstrated their understanding of employees’ concerns with vaccine safety (35%) and the potential liability in the case of severe reaction after vaccination (31%).
Despite most organisations demonstrating understanding to employees’ concerns over vaccination, a vast majority of the responding companies admitted that they had been tracking the vaccination status of the employees (61%), followed by companies which insisted not to track staff’s vaccination status (18%), while 16% of the interviewees revealed their upcoming plans to track employees’ vaccination status.
Policies for unvaccinated employees
The Government has launched the Vaccine Pass on 24 February 2022, regulating the vaccination status of people entering or remaining on specified premises. Despite most of the interviewed companies not being included in the specified premises, it is a challenge to eliminate the possibilities that the coverage of Vaccine Pass will be further expanded in future. Therefore, the research also collected data regarding the respondents’ possible arrangements for any employee who had remained unvaccinated without having a valid reason for exemption, and thus could not carry out their job at the workplace if the responding companies are listed on the scheduled premises in the future.
Among the responding companies, 35% said they have not yet come up with a certain policy for the aforementioned situation while another 35% stated that the unvaccinated employees would be granted a grace period and the employees would be dismissed if they did not fulfill the requirement after the period. 28% of the respondents replied that the arrangements would differ and be subject to discretion.
In the new normal, most of the responding companies preferred encouraging employees to get vaccinated instead of making it compulsory, with the majority of them showcasing empathy towards staff’s concerns over vaccination. Going forward, if the Government further expands the coverage of the Vaccine Pass to commercial buildings or offices, employers are prone to adjust their current vaccination policy accordingly.