Workers Support Employer Management of Contact Tracing, Want Transparency

Contact Tracing

Workers accept the idea of businesses taking pro-active steps to manage the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. At the same time, they believe companies should share information when a co-worker tests positive.

Specifically, some 86% of U.S. employees say their employer has an “obligation” to notify them if they may have had contact with an infected co-worker, according to research conducted for Kronos. That finding, the company said, helps “debunk” the idea that employees care more about privacy than they do safety.

Study: Workers OK with employers conducting contact tracing, but they expect transparency. @KronosInc @UltimateHCM #HR #HRTech #COVID-19 Share on X

In one of two surveys conducted for the company—one by the Harris Poll and the other by Workplace Intelligence—86% of workers across 10 countries said they’re comfortable, to at least some degree, with employer-led contact tracing. About 45% are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable with the idea, while 41% are either somewhat” or “a little” comfortable.  

Accepting the concept is one thing, of course. Accepting a practice is another. Here, too, Kronos found workers are pragmatic. About half of the respondents are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable with a workforce-management approach to contact-tracing, where work schedules are used to identify and manage workers who’ve been exposed. Roughly the same proportion accepted the idea of using access-control and workplace-movement records. Fewer—about 40%—were comfortable with the idea of leveraging mobile devices.

Employer Obligations

In any case, employees expect their company to look after their safety. Globally, 75% say they trust their employers to do so.

That’s an encouraging sign for employers who want to be proactive in bringing workers back on-site. However, a number of reports indicate employees have a ways to go before they buy into the idea safely returning to the office before the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.

Kronos found that nearly 90% of U.S. workers now at home wouldn’t want to return to the office if infections in their regions were increasing. Two-thirds of those already going into work would want to stay home if local cases began to rise.

Kronos Vice President Gregg Gordon said the research “should signal to employers that they have a responsibility to step up and employ all methods necessary to protect workers physically and mentally during COVID-19.” At the same time, he cautioned, though employees support the idea of contact tracing, “education and transparent communication cannot be overlooked when introducing new policies or protocols related to organizational safety.”

In May, the newly merged Ultimate Software and Kronos introduced features to help their respective customers track and mitigate Covid-19’s impact. Kronos’s tools analyze labor records and time and attendance data to identify employees who may have come in contact with a co-worker who’s tested positive. Ultimate introduced tools to help employers handle taxes, payments and leave management to comply with legislation enacted to aid workers during the crisis.  

Disclosure: Ultimate Software is a sponsor of the HCM Technology Report.

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