Prime minister: Firing an unvaccinated employee should be last option

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform)
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While the Police and Border Guard Board and the Estonian Defense Forces have stated that unvaccinated people in certain positions can lose their job if they are not vaccinated by October, the Rescue Board does not plan on releasing anyone. Government members find that firing an unvaccinated person should be the last option.

This week, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) have come out and said all their workers must be vaccinated. The Rescue Board is also working on having their internal vaccine coverage at 90 percent with it currently just over 80 percent.

"That gives us the likelihood of COVID-19 not spreading in the Rescue Board and will not spread out of the Rescue Board, which is why we are currently implementing many different measures to limit COVID-19. But we are not planning to release people because they are unvaccinated," said Rescue Board deputy director Tauno Suurkivi.

Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) said there will be no forced vaccinations. In October, the boards will clarify the positions, which need to have people vaccinated.

"I consider it correct that there should be a point that offers people other tasks on the same position. We cannot have risk analyses pointing to some positions, where vaccination is a presumption, and our first step is to lay off someone if they are unvaccinated," Jaani said.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) agreed and said forcing a person out of a job should be the last option. "It is understandable for say the ambulance service since they are dealing with people with lower immunity, but if they are not positions where there are people with lower immunity, then we must see if we can implement other measures until the final step of asking a person to leave," the prime minister said.

The obligation of drawing up an internal risk analysis stems from a government decision to amend the biological hazard regulation in August. According to the decision, infection safety must be ensured for everyone in the working environment.

Lawyer Pirkko-Liis Harkmaa said the regulation does not give employers the right to dismiss people if they are unvaccinated. "In actuality, not too much has changed with the implementation of this regulation, all rules and steps that have to be taken have remained the same. You must still assess and see if the measure is proportionate when it comes to the risk chance," Harkmaa noted.

As is with the Rescue Board, the Police and Border Guard Board vaccine coverage is hovering somewhere around 80 percent. Of active servicemen in the Estonian Defense Forces, close to 90 percent are currently vaccinated.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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