I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 80 together.
Firstly, I encourage as many people as possible to take up their COVID-19 vaccinations when offered.
As per recent advice from the Data Protection Commission, employers should only process COVID-19 vaccination data where necessary to achieve a specific, legitimate purpose in line with general and sector-specific public health advice.
The Work Safely Protocol states that the decision to get a vaccine is voluntary and that individuals will make their own decisions in this regard. The full suite of measures to maintain workplace safety should be considered by employers before making any assessment as to whether knowledge of vaccination status is necessary. COVID-19 vaccination in general would not be considered a necessary workplace safety measure for many workplaces or roles. However, there may be specific employment contexts where knowledge of vaccination status may be deemed necessary, subject to a risk assessment and with reference to sector-specific public health guidance. Employers are required to deal with these matters on a case-by-case basis. As a result, the data requested by the Deputy is not available centrally from my department.
In order to assist civil and public service organisations with their work-related obligations during COVID-19, the Civil Service HR Policy Division within my Department regularly issues Guidance and FAQs for Public Service Employers during Covid-19, which can be found here: www.gov.ie/en/news/092fff-update-on-working-arrangements-and-leave-associated-with-covid-19-fo/. This document is regularly updated to reflect any changes in public health guidance and government policy. Section 1.1 of this document, which is based on public health advice and the Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021, provides guidance for employers in relation to who should attend the work premise during the pandemic. In line with public health advice, a cautious and careful return to workplaces should take into account appropriate attendance levels, with the use of staggered arrangements such as non-fulltime attendance and flexible working hours. Additionally the advice is that all existing infection prevention and control measures, (such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, face coverings, adequate ventilation), and working from home unless an employee’s physical presence in the workplace is for specific business purposes, must also remain in place for individuals even following their vaccination.