Going to work soon with a QR code? Five questions and answers

1. In Italy, a QR code is already mandatory at work. How does that work?

In Italy you already have to go to work with your QR code in your pocket. If employees choose not to be vaccinated, they should be tested about twice a week. And that’s not cheap. You pay between 120 and 180 euros per month.

“Most Italians are in favour, about two-thirds of the population,” says correspondent Anouk Boone from Rome. “There is always a minority that makes itself heard loudly. Occasionally there are protests and there are a lot of Italians who have called in sick since they had to have a corona pass at work.”

2. Can a Dutch employer already ask for a QR code?

“No, there is no direct legal basis for requiring employees to do so now,” says Frank Penders, employment lawyer at Otis Advocaten. An employer may ask an employee whether he or she has been vaccinated or not, if there is a good reason to ask. But asking an employee for a corona proof in the form of a QR code, to allow such a person to enter the workplace or not, is not allowed due to privacy legislation.

At the same time, as an employer, you must also create a safe workplace for your employee. Some companies refer to this when they ask their employees for a QR code, Penders says. “But the judge has not yet ruled on that.” According to him, it is important that as an employer you make a policy in advance about what you will do if an employee does not have a QR code, or does not want to show it.

3. Can your employer ask for such a QR code in the future?

It is still a difficult situation, says employment law attorney Suzanne Meijers. As a catering boss, you are currently not allowed to ask your employees for a code. But if they come to have a cup of coffee in your business in their spare time, then it has to be done again. “That’s quite strange,” said Meijers.

The fact that you are in principle not allowed to ask employees for a QR code will change in the short term, fellow lawyer Penders expects. Because if you are on the assembly line in a factory for your work, for example, then it is very difficult for an employer. After all, you can’t let someone work from home. You can think of many situations like this where you run into problems in practice, Penders says.

Meijers, on the other hand, thinks it is difficult to make it legally possible for employers to ask for a QR code. “You get a lot more discussion then.” Nobody knows what will be announced at the corona press conference next Tuesday.

4. What if you don’t have a QR code – or don’t want to show it?

If you do not want to show your QR code, or if you do not have it, you as an employer are not allowed to attach any consequences to this at the moment, says Pascal Besselink, employment law attorney at legal service provider DAS. This means that in the current situation an employer will have to admit his or her employees to the workplace at all times.

An employer may now prescribe that employees wear a face mask, for example when it is difficult or impossible to keep a distance, explains Besselink. This also applies to additional measures in the workplace, such as installing splash screens.

You can – subject to consultation – let an employee work from home if he or she does not have a QR code or does not want to show it, Penders thinks. You can also slide the grids. For example, someone could do maintenance work when the other employees are home, or when it is quieter in the workplace. According to him, you can also guarantee sufficient distance for office work in some cases.

5. Can your employer save your QR code, or do you have to show it every day?

At the moment this is not the case, as an employer is not (yet) allowed to use this to deny someone access to the workplace, explains Besselink.

But if the cabinet makes it possible for an employer to ask for a QR code, then that employer is not allowed to write down this data or store it in a computer according to the privacy law. “At most you can remember it in your head,” says Besselink. “Although that becomes difficult in larger organizations.”

In practice, this would mean that you would have to show your QR code every working day. Just like you now have to show your QR code every time you go to the theater or cinema, Penders adds.

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