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Will workplace bullying rise as a result of COVID-19 vaccines?

Jess Bell (Human Resources Director)

As the vaccine roll-out continues across Australia and New Zealand, employers are having to navigate tricky waters. As well as questions around their legal ability to mandate vaccinations, concerns have arisen about whether it could increase the risk of workplace bullying.

Workplace Bullying
Workplace Bullying

While vaccinations are nothing new and many employers already encourage their staff to have the flu jab, COVID-19 is a particularly emotive issue. Many people across the globe see widespread vaccinations as the key to life returning to normal, bringing opportunity to return home and see family, holiday overseas and enjoy mass gatherings without the fear of infection.

But on the flip side, the fear and uncertainty around the COVID-19 vaccine is also a very real concern for some. For some groups, like pregnant women or those who are immunocompromised, there is limited data as to the side effects of the vaccine. Others may choose not to have it because of religious reasons. As vaccinations become more widespread, HRDs must be mindful of how they frame the conversation.

HRD spoke to workplace bullying expert, Maureen Kyne, who said if handled incorrectly, employees who choose not to vaccinated risk becoming isolated and shunned by their peers.

“This is the critical time for employees and employers to have really good conversation and communication,” she said. “It really requires an education around the vaccine so you’re able to inform your workforce about what this means for the workplace.”


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