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Trade Union JHL: No to mandatory vaccinations, yes to coronavirus vaccination recommendation

Trade Union JHL does not support mandatory vaccinations. Regardless, the people who belong to the highest at-risk groups must be protected from the coronavirus disease.

Trade Union JHL has encouraged its members to take the coronavirus vaccines because nothing else provides equally good protection against the coronavirus for the time being. JHL members are a part of a society whose duty is to protect those to whom a severe form of COVID-19 is especially dangerous. That is why the union recommends taking the coronavirus vaccines.

The recommendation to take the vaccine does not mean supporting mandatory vaccinations. The union also reminds that the Finnish Parliament is not about to introduce mandatory vaccinations to any occupational sector.

– The Parliament is currently processing a temporary amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act. The amendment would concern those people working in the health and social services sector who are in close contact to clients and patients belonging to a high at-risk group.  Employees who have such duties would be required to have protection against the coronavirus, similarly to measles, chickenpox, whooping cough and influenza. The legal amendment does not state anything about mandatory vaccinations, JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine clarifies.

– The primary obligation of employers is to conduct a risk assessment and create safe working conditions by drawing up an occupational safety plan. It may be required that health and social services employees have the best possible protection against a life-threatening disease, but a demand like this cannot be put to practice without also looking after the employees’ human rights. That is why it is important that occupational health care will be closely involved in the vaccinations of health and social services employees, Niemi-Laine adds.

The planned amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act does not force anyone to take the coronavirus vaccines. Taking the vaccines will remain voluntary for everyone, including those working in the health and social services sectors.

– Despite this, an employee’s salary payment may be stopped if they decide not to take the vaccines, and if the employer does not have any other duties to offer the employee. Employers have a very extensive obligation to find alternative duties. We must also bear in mind that an employee’s insufficient protection from vaccination does not give the employer any right to terminate the employee’s employment contract. The Parliament will decide on the content of the law. We will work to influence it in every way, but the truth is that the Parliament ultimately decides how they want the law to be, Niemi-Laine emphasises.

Employers not allowed to demand coronavirus passport 

The coronavirus passport regulation of the Communicable Diseases Act has not been extended to working life. For this reason, employers are not allowed to ask for the coronavirus passport as a requirement for entering the workplace, working or participating in recreational company events. Employees cannot be demanded to share their coronavirus vaccination status in workplaces in any other way either.

– The law prohibits employers from asking for vaccination or health information and writing down the information. However, the matter can be discussed unofficially in workplaces. Regardless, employers must not in any way pressure the employees to talk about the matter, Niemi-Laine declares.

According to JHL, there is still much that is unclear about the use of the coronavirus passport. The central organisations are represented in a working group set by the country’s government. JHL sees it as necessary to go through the matter of the coronavirus passport carefully.  However, the passport should not treat citizens unequally or leave people outside crucial services.

– We must bear in mind that Finland’s constitution guarantees the right to income and work. That must be taken into account when considering the implementation of coronavirus passport in working life. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has a working group currently contemplating this, Niemi-Laine explains.

More information: JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine, tel. 040 702 4772