German companies cannot ask about employees’ Covid vaccination status – labor minister
Germany’s labor minister has said companies will not have the right to ask staff to reveal their Covid vaccination status, though “pragmatic solutions” may be required for sectors deemed a higher risk for transmitting the virus.
Speaking to broadcaster ARD on Wednesday, German Labor Minister Hubertus Heil shared that there will be no general right for employers to access information that discloses staff members’ Covid vaccination status.
“We must act according to the rule of law. Acting under the rule of law means that an employer is not entitled to information about health data…[and] is also not allowed to look at the medical records of an employee, because this is very personal data,” the minister said.
Heil added, however, that he is “in favor of finding pragmatic solutions” for workplaces that are at a greater risk of transmitting Covid, namely prisons, hospitals, and care homes. This could mean requiring employees to show that they have either recovered from coronavirus, been vaccinated, or have tested negatively.
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The labor minister’s remarks coincide with Germany’s cabinet ruling on the same day that companies must allow their staff to take time off work to get their coronavirus jabs.
German bosses have recently been applying pressure on the government to grant them the power to ask workers whether they are inoculated or not. Thilo Brodtmann, the head of the German Engineering Federation, said on Tuesday that “employees must do everything they can to reduce the risk of infection to zero,” and “this includes at least an obligation to provide this information.”
Neighboring France has been riddled with weeks of protests against a government decree that will require workers from certain sectors – such as firefighters, medical workers, caregivers, and certain soldiers – to get vaccinated by September 15 or risk penalties.
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Italy’s Green Pass, which shows a person’s inoculation or viral status, was extended last month to include teachers for when schools reopen in September. It has now also been extended to trains, planes, coaches, and ferries.
The government is also considering widening this to include office and supermarket staff.
Just over 65% of Germany’s population have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while around 60% are fully vaccinated.
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