Corona and the Obligation to Vaccinate in the Workplace.

 Are Vaccine Refusers Facing Termination or Unpaid Leave of Absence?

Corona and the Obligation to Vaccinate in the Workplace.

Corona virus vaccinations are given on a voluntary basis - even at work. But there is the question of whether vaccination refusers can face time off without continued pay or even dismissal.

The Corona virus vaccinations have started. It is not compulsory to be vaccinated. Even employers cannot require their employees to be vaccinated against the virus.
On the other hand, according to occupational health and safety laws, the employer has a duty of care. He or she has to keep the risk of infection as low as possible. Especially in certain professions, e.g. in the fields of health care and nursing, there is a conflict between the employer’s duty of care and the employees’ personal rights.
Legislators would need to establish a legal basis for mandatory vaccination in the workplace. This would only be imaginable for certain occupational groups, such as doctors or nursing personnel. But mainly for employees who frequently come into contact with high-risk groups. Legislators have created a similar foundation with the Measles Protection Act. Currently, however, there is no legal obligation for a vaccination against Corona. This is why employers cannot require their employees to be vaccinated.

However, the employer has a managerial authority and the aforementioned duty of care. He or she has to take measures to ensure protection by sufficient distance and hygiene, and must ask the employees to comply with these rules. Likewise, he or she must require employees with symptoms to go to the doctor. Depending on the workplace, it may also be reasonable to order Corona rapid tests. For this, it depends on the concrete situation in the individual case. Nevertheless, the employer cannot demand that employees be vaccinated against the Corona virus, even as part of his duty of care.

This can become a problem for employers, especially in nursing and healthcare professions. Although they have no legislative power to oblige employees to be vaccinated, they can try to create incentives for vaccination, for example through paid leaves of absence or bonus payments.

Alternatively, unvaccinated employees could be reassigned to other workplaces where they are less likely to be in contact with high-risk groups. Further measures under labor law only come into question once such milder remedies have been exhausted. Then the employer may consider releasing unvaccinated employees from work without continued pay or even dismissing them on grounds of personal capability if this means that they are no longer suitable to perform their work.

There is no mandatory vaccination against the Corona virus in the workplace. However, if employees do not want to be vaccinated and therefore the employer can no longer employ them, there may be considerable consequences for them, such as time off without continued pay or even dismissal.