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Mandatory vaccination in some professions confirmed by government

Employers will be authorized to dismiss employees in some professions who have not obtained their Covid-19 certificates by October 1, the Cabinet of Ministers decided Wednesday, July 14.

The government agreed to make vaccination (or certified recovery from the virus) against Covid-19 mandatory for medics, social workers, and staff of educational establishments who come in contact with students. The decision still has to be adopted by the Saeima. 

Employers will also be required to ensure an epidemiologically safe provision of services in medical, social care and education institutions, which means that the provider of services will have to have a valid certificate proving that the employee has either been vaccinated against Covid-19 or has recovered from the disease.

Central and local governments will be obliged to ensure that all services that are provided in person are epidemiologically safe. Persons without a Covid-19 certificate will be able to receive services in person only if the services cannot be provided remotely.

The new regulation will allow employers to make Covid-19 certificates mandatory for employees whose job involves an increased risk of infecting other persons or contracting the virus. Covid-19 certificates will also be mandatory for public servants providing services in state or municipal institutions.

Employees will be given until October 1 to get vaccinated and obtain the certificates. Those who will fail to get their certificates by the October 1 deadline will face transfers or potential dismissal.

The Ministry of Justice announced that all state institutions, regardless of the field, will still be able to replace the certificate with a negative Covid-19 test until 31 December of this year.

In all areas, employers will be able to request a Covid-19 certificate from October 1 for employees who ensure the continuity of the institution's work, as well as for those employees who work day-to-day with customers. The employer will be able to transfer the employee to another post if he does not have a certificate. Employers will also have the right to dismiss them temporarily for three months, and if the employee does not obtain a certificate in that time, they can face dismissal. 

The annotation of the draft law states that it also provides for the right of the employer to provide for exceptions if the provision of the specific action and service is not linked to an increased risk of infection. The employer will assess each employee individually, taking into account the principles of proportionality, the rule of law and equality, when taking a specific decision.  The employer will be prohibited from dismissing a pregnant woman, as well as with a woman in the post-natal period up to one year, but if a woman is breastfeeding – throughout the feeding period, but not longer than until the child is two years old.

The State will be obliged to provide compensation if the complications caused by vaccination (side effects) cause severe damage to health or life, and the person has the right to receive state-paid healthcare for the prevention of complications. Health care services and expenses, which are paid, as well as the procedures for the granting and payment of compensation, shall be determined by the Cabinet.

The State Council for Immunisation said that vaccines – which are used in Latvia – have no medical, clinical, scientific reasons where a person is not likely to receive them, except for an allergic reaction – anaphylaxis. Therefore, there is no theoretical and practical situation where, for medical or health-related reasons, a person is not likely to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The draft law has yet to be reviewed by the Saeima.

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