Confusion reigns within the ranks of employers in Flanders, over how to deal with employees who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the VRT reports.
On the one hand stands Johann Leten, a managing partner of the employers’ organisation Voka in Limburg province. According to Leten, an employer can suspend an employee who declines to be vaccinated on health and safety grounds.
“People have to take into account that refusing a vaccine can have consequences in the workplace or in the search for work,” he said.
“An employer has the right to refuse a person who has not been vaccinated if that employer considers that the health and safety of other employees is endangered.”
And he points out that refusing a vaccine, while legal at present, has other consequences outside the workplace, for example when travelling to other countries that demand a vaccination certificate before allowing entry.
But for Grete Remen, CEO of family food business Damhert, only the government has the power to impose a vaccine, even tacitly.
“I’m not a fan of an obligation,” she said.
“But if, for example, a travel ban is imposed if you are not vaccinated, it becomes an indirect obligation, and I think it would be better for the government to say that everyone should be vaccinated.”
Employers already operate under strict restrictions relating to employee privacy, she said.
“As an employer, you are not even allowed to inquire of an employee about his or her medical record or ask the doctor what the employee has when they are sick. That is a matter of the privacy of the employee and the law says that you must respect that privacy,” she said.
Somewhere in the middle is Hans Maertens, CEO of Voka. Employers may not oblige their employees to be vaccinated, he agrees.
“But they are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. And many companies are concerned that there will soon be two groups of employees, which will lead to difficult situations,” he said.
“We are going to see the same problems with travel or events so we have to open the debate and see how we do this.”