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Labor law expert: Vaccination refusers could lose their jobs

The ministry wants neither compulsory nor sanctions – in practice, however, vaccination is likely to be decisive for all customer-oriented industries. Expert demands a non-discriminatory solution from the government.

In the government’s vaccination plan, health and care workers are at the forefront. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) relies on those who deal with the sick on a daily basis as well as the general population on voluntary basis.

Since the vaccination is primarily about your own protection, it should be in your personal interest to get vaccinated, according to KURIER’s request from the ministry. “We are convinced that the effectiveness of the vaccination speaks for itself and that this is a sufficient argument.”

Theoretically, Anschober could already prescribe a vaccination for health care workers based on the Epidemic Act. Refusal would result in an administrative fine of 1,450 euros. A vaccination obligation or sanctions for non-vaccinated people are not planned, it is emphasized.

Probably because it is not yet clear whether the vaccination also protects against the transmission of the virus to others. In this case, the legislature would have much more leeway, confirm constitutional lawyers and medical lawyers (the KURIER reported).

Dealing with people who do not want to be vaccinated will be tricky, says labor lawyer Martin Gruber-Risak from the University of Vienna. A non-vaccinated nurse is in principle the same as a construction worker who does not put on a helmet: at some point he will be “disabled” – and can be terminated if there is no substitute job.

So you would have to try to find one first. With doctors and nurses who have to be kept away from sick people, this is likely to be difficult in the long run.

It is easier with staff who are newly hired. The Covid-19 vaccination could be a prerequisite for getting the job.

“With us you are safe”

The problem does not only affect the health sector – all areas with customer contact are possible (if the vaccination really protects against transmission), says the labor lawyer. Service providers could advertise, for example: “With us you are safe, our staff is vaccinated.”

An FFP2 mask should only go through as an alternative to a limited extent: In many professions, it is important to show one’s face for a relationship of trust with customers, says Gruber-Risak – and thinks of brokers, salespeople, bank employees, hairdressers or employees in the Top gastronomy. The labor lawyer refers to the judicature according to which companies can terminate Muslim women if they are veiled in an activity with customer contact.

Seen in this way, a company could probably also lay off employees who do not want to be vaccinated and therefore have to wear a mask. Gruber-Risak assumes that many such cases could end up before the labor court and in the courts. It could take years for a solution that is compatible with the market and employees to be finalized. The labor lawyer therefore advocates that the government create a non-discriminatory regulation in good time.

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