Majority say yes to Covid-19 workplace mandates

  • Wellness
  • Wednesday, 12 Jan 2022

The vast majority of Malaysians (93%) agree that people who need to be at their workplace should be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. — Filepic

According to a recent survey, there is widespread support among workers across the world for workplace Covid-control mandates.

On average, about three in four employed adults agree that everyone in their workplace should be fully vaccinated (78%), undergo frequent testing if unvaccinated (74%), and wear a face mask in common areas (81%).

A majority of workers in most countries (averaging 62% globally) would not feel comfortable going to work if such measures were not in place.

These are the findings of a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Ipsos of nearly 14,500 employed adults across 33 countries between last Oct 22 and Nov 5 (2021) – a few weeks before the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron viral variant.

“Staying the course with safety measures that we know make a difference – vaccines, masks, testing – is incredibly important as we navigate this complex pandemic,” said WEF Health and Healthcare head Genya Dana.

“We know that employers have had to assume many new responsibilities with regard to worker health and wellbeing since the start of the pandemic, and count on them as a trusted partner in this journey.”

The survey also highlights wide differences in Covid-19 and workplace-related behaviour and attitudes globally.

Support for vaccination, testing, and face mask-wearing mandates is generally highest in eastern and southern Asia, Saudi Arabia and Latin America, and lowest in central, eastern, and northern Europe, and the United States.

On everyone at the workplace being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Malaysia tied for second place with Singapore with 93% of respondents agreeing to the mea-sure.

Malaysians topped the list at 91% on requiring the unvaccinated to undergo frequent Covid-19 testing, and came in fourth at 94% on agreeing that people at the workplace should wear face masks in common areas and when in close proximity to other people.

Unsurprisingly, the countries where workers are most supportive of workplace vaccination mandates are also those where workers are most likely to say they would get vaccinated if required to do so to keep their jobs.

While on average globally, about two-thirds of workers (68%) said they would get vaccinated in this scenario, four in five said so in China, Singapore and South Korea, while only half did in Russia, Poland and Romania.

Globally, only 12% of workers would choose frequent testing instead.

In Russia, Turkey and the Netherlands, the proportion of workers who would seek to avoid getting vaccinated or tested, while still keeping their jobs, is about double the global average of 9%.

In Romania, Hungary and the US, more than twice as many say they would quit their job or find another than on average (5%).

Globally, older workers and highly educated workers are more likely to say they would get vaccinated.

Only in seven of the countries surveyed would a majority of workers still be comfortable going to work if no protective mandates were in place, i.e. Russia, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

In China, where only 12% of workers say they would be comfortable in this scenario, two-thirds said they would quit their job (18%) or work remotely instead (48%).

Other countries where at least 40% would either resign or work remotely in the absence of protective measures, include Malaysia, Spain, South Korea, Japan and Peru.

In general, fewer employed adults are currently working from outside their homes than before the pandemic (66% vs 77% on ave-rage globally), although there is significant disparity in this regard across different countries.

Countries where the drop in out-of-home work was most notable compared to pre-pandemic levels, included Peru, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Chile.

Interestingly, three countries reported an increase in out-of-home work levels since the pandemic started, i.e. China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

There were also several countries where out-of-home work increased by around ten percentage points since last June (2021): Argentina, Chile, India, France, the Nether-lands and Sweden.

In Malaysia, 51% of respondents reported that they were always or mostly working away from home, coming in at 29th position in the list.

A total of 34% say they always or mostly work in the office, while 17% say they always or mostly work away from home, but not in an office.

Meanwhile, 32% always or mostly work from home, while 17% work about equally at home and away from home.

However, this survey was conducted before the discovery of the Omicron viral variant, which may have new implications for workplace restrictions and habits.

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