Labor Inspectorate: Not easy to fire workers who refuse to vaccinate

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Police and rescue workers were vaccinated on the island of Saaremaa on March 4. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

The Labor Inspectorate has said it is possible for employers to terminate non-vaccinated employees contracts - but most likely only if no other option is available.

An employee of fuel company Olerex approached newspaper Postimees and asked if it was possible to be fired if workers refused to get vaccinated as the company had suggested, the newspaper wrote on Wednesday (link in Estonian).

On Thursday, Olerex CEO Piret Miller told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that some members of staff are hesitant to get vaccinated. She said the company's requirements for employees are higher than average as they are frontline staff. 

"Certainly Olerex will not threaten anyone or make any easy decisions. Today, I can clearly say that there is no such plan for Olerex to terminate the employment of people who do not vaccinate themselves," she said.

Miller said the company has not yet fully discussed how it will deal with people who refuse to vaccinate.

The Labor Inspectorate's Kaire Saarep told AK under certain conditions it is possible to terminate the employment of someone who refuses the vaccine but this will not be an easy process. Only a few positions, such as working in neonatal wards, currently have a mandatory vaccination requirement.

"But those sectors where you can keep a distance from customers, you can reorganize your work, you can use other measures, the requirement for vaccination may not be justified," said Saarep.

Other retailers are also investigating employees' willingness to vaccinate, AK reported. 

Maxima supermarket chain has started to draw up vaccination lists and human resources manager Lea Kimber told AK the company does not intend to punish those who refuse.  

"We have put together a pretty thorough plan for how we can inform our employees. We will promote vaccination based on the examples of our own company and the examples of social influencers. It is not about terminating employment contracts," Kimber said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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