Date: 28/04/2021

Roundtable held on Vaccination and the Workplace

The AmCham Labour Law Committee and the HR Forum hosted a roundtable entitled ‘Vaccination and the Workplace’. The panellists discussed the ongoing immunisation effort against Covid-19, how employees and employers viewed vaccination, and the measures companies could take with respect to their staff members’ immunisation status.

The panellists were Zlatko Petrović, Assistant to the Secretary General and head of Enforcement Division with the Secretariat of the Office of the Commissioner for Freedom of Information and Personal Data Protection and Relja Pantić, head of the Public Sector Complaints Division at the Secretariat of the Office of the Equality Commissioner. The discussion was moderated by lawyers Dragana Bajić, chairperson of the Labour Law Committee, and Aleksandar Petrović, the Committee’s vice-chair.

Throughout the pandemic, employers took a variety of actions in this regard. Some helped register their staff for immunisation, others had internal policies that prevented them from inquiring about employees’ vaccination status, and still others provided incentives to workers who opted to get vaccines.

The panellists noted mandatory vaccination would not be a precedent, but that a distinction had to be drawn between the government legislating to make immunisation required and employers doing so on their own initiative. Firms were recommended to err on the side of caution and look closely at regulations before making any such moves.

The panel felt that any precautionary ban on non-vaccinated staff physically entering the workplace had to have a clear objective. It would have to be seen whether the purpose could be achieved by less restrictive means, quite apart from the fact that some staff could not receive the vaccine for health-related or other reasons.

Individual freedom of choice and societal right to survive would have to be carefully weighed and balanced, the discussion concluded. It was extremely important to educate employees and help them understand the benefits of immunisation before reaching for restrictive measures.

From the perspective of personal data protection, processing personal data was permitted only if legally allowed. It was paramount for data to be collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes, with due regard for the principles of lawfulness, transparency, and fairness.

Click here to watch video of the event.