Employers confused by employee COVID-19 certificate procedure

Coronavirus vaccinations (photo is illustrative).
Coronavirus vaccinations (photo is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Based on a government decision made on Thursday, employers can now require proof of coronavirus status on the part of their employees. The new situation has however caused employers confusion.

Estonian Employers' Confederation chairman Arto Aas told ERR that the rate of unvaccinated people in the service and trade sectors is still around 40 percent.

While the work environment risk analysis sees a requirement to test employees, it can cost the employer thousands per month, depending on the number of people tested. As employers have to cover the costs of testing themselves, Aas said it has caused them several questions in the long-term.

"Since the third wave seems to be arriving for the fall-winter season and that period can turn out a lengthy one, it is likely not viable economically or fair that the testing costs for unvaccinated people should be covered by the employer," Aas said.

Aas said that there are other questions to go with the biological risk factor regulation. "Primarily legal questions, human rights questions, questions about personal data processing and so on. /.../ Since there is not much time, there is quite a bit of confusion and resentment," the confederation head said.

Lawyer Pirkko-Liis Harkmaa told ERR that there has been no discrimination yet, but since people are still trying to adapt to the new conditions, such cases cannot be ruled out.

Harkmaa said people are awaiting a decision on Tallinn ambulance workers turning to the courts over a vaccine requirement as a judgement could help provide legal clarity in the current situation.

Fifteen Tallinn ambulance service staff who were served notices of termination for failing to take a coronavirus vaccine have issued an appeal to Tallinn city government, calling for the dismissal of the service's chief Raul Adlas for a dictatorial and intimidating management style. Adlas told ERR that the initiative was carried out on behalf of the disgruntled staff by a lawyer who, he said, wanted to disrupt the service's activities and make things as uncomfortable as possible.

"It would certainly be solid evidence for arguments. And we have not had claims where workers try to claim that they were infected with the coronavirus at the workplace reach the courts yet - whether it is the fault of the employer, whether it is even a work-related illness, an occupational disease or something like that," Harkmaa said.

The Ministry of Social Affairs said working directives during the coronavirus crisis will be updated by Tuesday.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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