Build your vaccine policy around company culture, says CHRO Lesley-Anne Gatter

Investec’s Head of people and organisation shares three unique insights on having a workplace vaccination policy.

Investec’s workplace vaccination policy came into effect on 1 February. According to Lesley-Anne Gatter, the company’s head of people and organisation, Investec made the policy decision because the company fully supports the worldwide effort to vaccinate against Covid-19.

“We believe, at this time, that the vaccine is the best mitigation against the virus, and that it ensures a safe environment for all,” she says.

As a result, all Investec employees are required to make an online declaration, based on trust, of their vaccination status. Following the declaration, employees who are not fully vaccinated are contacted and individually consulted on the matter.

An Investec environment includes the company workplace, company events and client meetings, wherever they take place and fully vaccinated means one J&J vaccine or two Pfizer vaccines, as well as a booster shot, which is dependent on eligibility.

However, the policy has taken the concept of reasonable accommodation into account.

“For the organisation to spend the majority of the week in the office, and subject to any ‘reasonable accommodation’ being agreed, all employees should be fully vaccinated. However, no one will be forced or coerced into consenting to a Covid-19 vaccination,” adds Lesley-Anne.

Reasonable accommodation means any modification or adjustment that will allow an employee, who cannot or will not be vaccinated, to remain in employment. Such “accommodation” may be long or short term and, at Investec, this will include requiring the employee to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test, at the employee’s own expense, which is no more than 72 hours old from time of testing, before entering our environment.

The banking and wealth management group has taken a similar approach to visitors, including clients and service providers, who will be required to declare – on a trust basis – that they are fully vaccinated or have a valid PCR test prior to entering an Investec environment.

As a number of HR professionals are currently grappling with a similar situation, Lesley-Anne shares the following advice on implementation of workplace vaccination policies.

  • Consider and articulate your culture and how your approach to vaccination is or isn't a reflection of that culture. Then build a policy that is more about the culture than anything else and considers the necessity of providing a safe working environment for all, and how you will process and consider those in the organisation who can’t or won’t be able to comply.
  • Find an exceptional legal team who understand this culture and the intention behind crafting a policy and build a close relationship that enables you to work with them to test and stretch the document, in relation to your prized culture.
  • Use the expertise and experience gained as a huge learning for the people, teams and leaders across the business. It’s a unique opportunity to learn in an agile way as you work with occupational health and safety, constitutionality, distinction, and values.