Masks, Vaccine Status Ongoing Concern for Workers

Published On
Jul 7, 2021

According to the results of the latest American Staffing Association’s Workforce Monitor survey (conducted from June 10 to June 14 by The Harris Poll among 2,066 U.S. adults aged 18 and older), nearly six in ten U.S. adults (57%) believe that employees should be required to wear masks when working at on-site work locations, even after they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The American Staffing Association, based in Alexandria, Va., and its state affiliates are the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting and workforce solutions industry.

“While government officials are rolling back COVID-19 requirements throughout the country, many workers aren’t ready to give up their masks just yet,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the ASA. “As brick-and-mortar workplaces reopen, workers are anxious about being around their colleagues once again. Employers must clearly communicate what steps they are taking to make their workplaces safe for their employees as they reopen.”

In specific, the results of the survey noted that, while 50% of white Americans believe that employees should be required to wear masks when working at on-site work locations, even after being vaccinated for COVID-19, 70% of African Americans and 64% of Hispanic/Latino Americans believe the same.

And, in what seems to be somewhat of a “head scratcher,” the survey uncovered some friction between employees’ right to know about their co-workers’ vaccine status and the right to privacy about their own status. In fact, while two-thirds of U.S. adults polled in the survey believe they have a right to know whether their co-workers have received the vaccine, a majority (60%) also say that their personal vaccine status is their business alone.

In specific, 70% of Baby Boomers say they have a right to know if their co-workers have been vaccinated compared with 66% of Millennials and 60% of Generation X.

Generation X showed the largest support for privacy about their own vaccine status (68%), followed closely by Millennials (67%) and about half of Baby Boomers (52%) sharing this sentiment.

“As work sites reopen across the country, employee concerns about COVID-19 are creating a challenging privacy paradox,” Wahlquist said. “Employees want to know whether their fellow co-workers have been vaccinated but don’t want to make their own status public. In balancing these interests, employers must keep workplace safety considerations top of mind.”

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