Employee COVID-19 testing must be paid for by employer

Coronavirus testing station.
Coronavirus testing station. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

If an employer demands coronavirus testing from their employees, they must also cover the costs of testing, daily Õhtuleht reported on Friday. Ministry of Social Affairs spokespeople told ERR on Saturday that employers must cover all costs associated with occupational safety measures, such as helmets or work gloves.

Social ministry labor and pension policy adviser Ea Põldis told Õhtuleht (link in Estonian) that unvaccinated workers can work in places, where vaccination certificates, negative test results or proof of recovery is demanded from customers. But in this case, it is the employer's task to minimize infection risk using other measures, such as providing personal protective equipment, reorganizing workflows or checking on infection safety.

Ministry spokesperson Riina Soobik told ERR that the employer must first assess risks regarding coronavirus spread and then implement measures to alleviate the risks, protecting the health of their employees and their clients. "In workplaces, where employees are in contact with large groups of people or people in risk groups, the employer can implement the use of personal protective equipment, they can reorganize workflows, check the infection safety of their workers, vaccinate their workers, test them and other measures," Soobik said.

"It is important to consider the nature of the work when implementing measures i.e. looking at if employees are in contact with clients or not and whether or not it is possible to reorganize work in a way that would decrease contact with clients," Ea Põldis said.

Soobik said that vaccinations and testing are an appropriate measure for workers, for whom the risk analysis states that the measures are necessary for the safe performance of their duties.

"If an employer sees measures as a necessity in their action plan, then the costs for these measures must be covered. This applies to all sectors, not just those that will be affected by restrictions," she added.

The ministry spokesperson noted that the government is set to discuss on Tuesday, which rules will be valid in light of new work organization measures. "But in any case, the right thing to do is to get vaccinated," Soobik noted.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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