Can I demand a corona entry pass in the workplace?

The debates about mandatory vaccination or a corona entry pass in the workplace became more heated in 2021. Although it is against the law, some employers refused entry to employees who have not been vaccinated.
Can you order your staff to get a jab? Or a corona entry pass? The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK spoke to 2 experts about vaccination, the corona entry pass, and what you as employer are allowed to ask from your personnel – and what not.

Please note: As of 23 March 2022, the corona entry pass is no longer needed in the Netherlands. Vaccinations and the sharing of vaccination status in the workplace are not mandatory. The discussion below happened during the corona crisis.

No mandatory vaccination

“You cannot force employees to get vaccinated”, states Sean Witteveen (DAS legal advice). “The Netherlands does not have a vaccination requirement. There is no legal basis for you as an employer to demand from your employees that they get vaccinated. The Dutch Constitution, the 'Grondwet', states that everyone in the Netherlands has the right to determine what happens with their body. That includes freedom of choice when it comes to vaccination.”

No harm in asking

You are allowed to ask an employee whether they have been vaccinated. “There is no harm in asking. But the reply should not have any consequences”, says Annette Borgers, labour law attorney at Van Bladel Advocaten. “The employee does not have to answer the question. And if they do, you cannot act on the information. You are not even allowed to write it down. That would violate the privacy laws.” 

Outgoing public health minister Hugo de Jonge has announced several times during press conferences that he has commissioned an investigation into the possibilities for registering employees’ vaccination status, for example in the care sector. The idea is that such a registration would prevent unsafe working conditions, and protect patients. The outcome of the investigation is not yet known.

Checking in using the corona entry pass

You are not allowed to ask employees to show their corona entry pass upon entering the workplace. But at this moment, you do not risk a fine or other consequences if you do. So long as there is no law on the subject, the government cannot enforce it. 

Minister De Jonge also mentioned this during the press conference of 12 November. The possibility to implement the corona entry pass in the workplace is something the government is looking into, together with unions and employers’ associations. Until the outcome is clear, the minister urges employers and employees to show understanding and solidarity. 

The union FNV opposes making asking for an employee’s corona situation legal. They want to make it against the law, and record this in the temporary corona act.

Tips

Borgers and Witteveen have 3 tips for creating a safe workplace under the current circumstances.

1. Be clear on your COVID-19 policy

“Employers must have a clear COVID-19 policy. You can use the 2015 Health Council Advice (in Dutch). Such a policy makes it clear to all employees that vaccination is advisable. It describes all arrangements, like rules for working from home and corona working instructions. And you can outline what you do to make it easier for employees to get vaccinated: travel cost compensation, or special leave. You need a policy to fall back on in case of a conflict”, says Borgers.

2. Revise your risk evaluation

De Vries adds: “If necessary, revise your company risk evaluation. This document describes the steps you take to reduce or eliminate psycho-social labour strain, among other things. Work out these steps with your team, and regularly discuss them in the workplace. For example, during a work meeting.”

3. Keep talking to each other

“Unfortunately, the corona crisis causes many conflicts between people – legally as well as personally”, Witteveen points out. His advice: “Keep talking to each other, and don’t resort to quoting laws. No matter what the subject is: working from home, the corona entry pass, or vaccination. Listen to each other, and try to understand how the other person feels. That is usually the best way to cope with doubts and worries.”

Corona questions? You can call us on 0800 2117.

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