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23 May 2022

Almost 6 in 10 people want colleagues to wear masks

coronavirus covid-19

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Whether through necessity or desire, more than 7 out of every 10 workers (73%) in Ireland will wear a mask at their place of work, while the majority (57%) of people want their colleagues to do so also.

The latest Taxback.com Taxpayer Sentiment Survey[1] assessed the level of support for mask-wearing in the workplace and found that, in the main, although there is no requirement to do so in most public settings, wearing a mask is still very much the norm for many people.

Taxback.com Survey respondents were asked:

Do you want your colleagues to wear masks at work?

Yes, definitely - 25%
I’d like them to, but it’s their choice - 32%
No, I don’t want them to - 11%
Don’t care either way - 32%

Speaking of the findings, Barry Cahill, Director of Taxback.com’s Employee Financial Wellbeing Service, “This was a really interesting insight into something that, notwithstanding Government mandatory requirements that had been in place, is actually a very personal choice. People are really divided in whether or not they want people to wear masks at work – on the one hand you have the 57% who would definitely feel more comfortable if masks were commonplace, but on the other, there’s the 32% who simply don’t care, and a further 11% who definitely don’t want colleagues to wear masks at work, perhaps feeling that they have had enough of this particular pandemic measure for good.

The Survey also asked: Will you be wearing a mask at work?

Yes, my employer said it’s mandatory -  27%
Yes, because I want to - 27%
I might sometimes – probably not all the time - 19%
No – not unless I have to - 25%
No – I’d like to, but I feel pressure not to wear a mask - 2%

Mr Cahill continued: “The drivers behind people actually wearing masks in the workplace are also split – an equal number say they’ll do because it’s mandatory or because they want to (27%), while 1 in 5 say they might wear a mask sometimes but not all the time.

It’s clear from our survey that the issue of mask-wearing is still very much a hot-topic for people. And It looks likely to stay that way from some time to come – just last week Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation said as Covid cases rise again, the government should be implementing a return to mask-wearing, and social distancing, particularly in confined and crowded spaces.

So while on many levels, it seems that the pandemic is behind us, Covid is still very much a part of the picture, especially for those with ongoing or underlying health conditions.

On the employer side, it’s a very difficult balance to strike, as there are many factors to weigh up on between responsibility for the health of workers, and workers’ individual preferences.”

With preventative measures looking set to remain part of the workplace environment for time to come, Mr. Cahill advised that businesses and companies can act by strengthening their existing employee wellbeing frameworks, to ensure good communication around the topic of mask wearing and other Covid protocols,

“It’s important to create open channels for discussion on the topic, and a respectful environment towards the differing needs and opinions of co-workers. We should feel safe in our workplaces, not shamed for our health choices. Where people feel uncomfortable, especially in their face-to-face interactions with others, they should feel supported to communicate that in an appropriate way”.

[1] Survey was conducted on 1,200 of Taxback.com’s customer database

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