Workers who are required to take time off work to go and be vaccinated can do so during their paid working time, after an agreement between unions and employers.
The decision was agreed yesterday in the National Labour Council, where employers and unions come together to agree questions of working conditions.
The vaccination of the general public is still some way off, as limited supplies of vaccines are currently being given to care home residents and staff, health care workers, to be followed later by 0ver-65s and those under than age with a medical condition.
However when the time comes for a mass vaccination effort to get under way, it has now been agreed that workers are entitled to take time off work to be vaccinated without loss of earnings.
Each person will be issued with a notice containing the time and place where the vaccination will take place, and that notice will suffice as proof to the employer, the Council said. The employer has no grounds to refuse.
The leave issue is valid until the end of the year, but may be extended until 1 July 2022 depending on the vaccination situation in the country in December.
“We realize that vaccination leave can cause organisational and financial problems,” the Federation of Belgian Enterprise (FEB), representing businesses, said in a statement.
“After all, the employer must continue to pay wages and staff schedules will have to be adjusted. Yet we are convinced that these disadvantages do not outweigh the advantages of a rapid vaccination campaign, which we believe is the fastest way to relaunch the economy and bring our social life back to normal.”
On the side of the unions, the agreement was welcomed, together with an assurance that the privacy of workers will be respected. In particular, details of who has made use of the paid leave, and who has been vaccinated and who not.
Unions also stressed that an employer may not apply pressure for workers to arrange to be vaccinated outside of working hours.