In a notice submitted by the National Council for Work (CNT), employers have called for heavy penalties for healthcare workers who refuse to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, l'Echo reported on Wednesday.
Employers also expressed their frustration to Belgium's Minister for Health Frank Vandenbroucke about the divergent positions taken by social partners and the lack of consistency in recommendations about compulsory vaccines for healthcare workers, Belga News Agency reported.
Trade unions have been quick to voice their opposition to this obligation, which has been squarely rejected by the FGTB. But bodies representing employers have asked for such measures to be put in place at once, and with sanctions for those who do not comply.
According to the proposal put forward by employers, a transition period of two to three months would be initiated once compulsory vaccination is written into the law. During this period, non-vaccinated staff would be able to either get vaccinated or be tested regularly. Thereafter, those who still refuse to be vaccinated would be suspended from work without being compensated or receiving their salary during a period of up to six months.
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Should an individual continue to hold out against the vaccine even stricter penalties would be applied, possibly constituting "grounds for the termination of a contract", the representatives of employers at the CNT stated.
Trade unions regard the sanctions as totally unjustifiable and state that forced and unpaid suspension from work would amount to a breach of fundamental rights.
Minister for Health Frank Vandenbroucke has already received the go-ahead for compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers but this will still require a new law to be created. His cabinet hopes to have a legal framework in place by the end of this year, or early next year.
"The priority is still to convince carers to be vaccinated but after the transition period no carer, whether employee or independent, will be able to work without being vaccinated," France Dammel, spokesperson for Vandenbroucke, told l'Echo.