Court bars PPA from dismissing employees who lack coronavirus certificate

Court. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

On Monday, January 31 the first-tier Tallinn Administrative Court granted applicants' applications for interim relief and prohibited the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) from terminating their employment on the grounds of failing to produce a Covid certificate, until the judgment in the main proceedings had entered into force.

On Friday, the administrative court banned the dismissal of more than 20 PPA employees and set a deadline for the parties to reach a compromise.

The law firm Pallo&Partners, acting for the dismissed employees of the PPA, informed the media that the administrative court largely referred to a decision by the second-tier Tartu Circuit Court of January and found, similarly to the circuit court, that the vaccination requirement imposed by the PPA had been disproportionate to the purpose.

According to the courts, the situation has changed significantly compared with the time when the PPA prepared its risk analysis.

"At present, the situation with regard to coronavirus has changed significantly both in Estonia and in the world compared to the time of the risk analysis. there are also indications that the protection against vaccination against infection is lower for the omicron strain and that the course of the disease is rather milder.

Kristina Viznovich, a lawyer at the law firm Pallo&Partners, stated that the dispute over the preliminary legal protection has been held for the time being and the substantive settlement of the dispute can be started.

"Considering that the decisions of the Tallinn Administrative Court are based on the decision of the Tartu Circuit Court, it is hoped that by this time a dispute over the initial legal protection has been held and the court can proceed to the substantive resolution of the dispute."

Jaanika Reilik-Bakhoff, a lawyer at the same firm, said that in all four complaints the applicants had submitted a proposal to the PPA to revoke the compulsory vaccination order by way of a compromise - in all proceedings the court had also set a deadline for the parties to reach a compromise.

"At a hearing on a similar subject, the judge ruled that dismissal on the grounds that he was suddenly ill was unconstitutional and that such protection should protect workers against all illnesses. The judge pointed out that other options should be considered and, if available, the termination of the employment relationship is not justified - a decision has not been made in this matter yet," Reilik-Bakhoff said.

Reilik-Bakhoff added that as of now the PPA has made the booster dose mandatory by its directive.

"On February 1, 2022, the PPA amended its ordinance to require employees to have a valid document certifying Covid immunization or cure - this also made a booster dose mandatory. Furthermore, if the PPA were still guided by the regulation under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the so-called validity of the Covid certificate mentioned therein, it would still have to be one year, not 270 days." Reilik-Bakhoff points out that compulsory vaccination in the PPA must be stopped and the parties must find a compromise, Reilik-Bakhoff added.

On November 3, 2021, the Director-General of the PPA issued a directive requiring vaccination against the virus as a condition for working in all PPA positions.

The law firm Pallo&Partners has filed four lawsuits on behalf of PPA officials and employees for approximately 60 people.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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