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Coronavirus: Can Employers Oblige Employees to Get Vaccinated?

Márton Jász 2021.02.24.

According to experts the current legal environment does not allow employers to make coronavirus vaccination compulsory for their employees in Hungary. However, employers do have a duty to maintain a work environment that is not dangerous to public health. 

Nóra Óváry-Papp and Benjámin Simkovicz, legal experts at Baker McKenzie international law firm, said that getting vaccinated is currently not obligatory in Hungary, so an employer cannot mandate it either, not even in connection with special roles. In terms of creating a healthy working environment, employers have to be within the means available to them, and also within legal limits.

Furthermore, vaccination against the coronavirus also raises important labor law issues.

“Should the employer make it compulsory for the employee to be vaccinated or the employee would be disadvantaged by not getting the vaccine, this would raise concerns related to discrimination and data protection,”  said Nóra Óváry-Papp.

Objectively speaking, it would be extremely difficult to decide who can legally refuse to be vaccinated or not, because many workers due to personal situations are unable to receive the vaccine. A further obstacle to making vaccinations compulsory is the fact that supply is limited and the age group that makes up the largest proportion of the labor market will only be able to receive it at a later date. Therefore, employers who would make vaccinations compulsory would inevitably be discriminating against their employees.

In regard to data protection rules, the question whether or not an employee has been vaccinated is considered to be problematic because such information is classified as sensitive personal data. Employers do not have a legal basis to process or ask for this information. Therefore, employees cannot be asked during a job interview whether or not they have been vaccinated.

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“With Mass Vaccination, Coronavirus Can No Longer Win” – Interview with Chief Infectologist János Szlávik

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When asked about what employers should do in order to provide the safest working environment, Dr. Benjámin Simkovicz said:

“If possible, it is worth working from home, introducing rotation schemes for office presence, applying physical isolation solutions, and increasing disinfection in workplaces where personal presence is essential.”

Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI