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Vaccination leave: what does the bill say?

23 March 2021 Miet Vanhegen Employers

The government has prepared a bill on 'vaccination leave'. The bill, which is yet to be voted on in federal parliament, aims to facilitate the vaccination campaign and to achieve a vaccination rate of at least 70 % of the population. In addition, the Data Protection Authority (GBA) has also expressed its opinion on the proposal in view of privacy legislation on the processing of employees' health data.

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What does the bill say?

All employees who are signatory to an employment contract are entitled to be absent from work while retaining normal pay (minor time loss) in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The minor time loss may be taken up for the time it takes to get vaccinated. This refers to both the vaccination itself and the time it takes to get to the place of vaccination. If two injections are required, the worker may claim minor time loss twice.

This absence with pay only applies to the corona vaccination. If an employee becomes ill as a part of the vaccination, the ordinary scheme of incapacity for work applies.

Can the employer refuse this?

The employer cannot refuse the absence and may not put pressure on employees to have themselves vaccinated after working hours.

What are the conditions for claiming vaccination leave?

The employee must fulfil a number of conditions if he/she wishes to claim vaccination leave.

  • The employee must notify the employer beforehand. This should be done as soon as possible from the moment the time or time slot of the vaccination is known to him.
  • The employee must use the leave for the purpose for which it is allowed.
  • The employee must provide proof of this at the employer's request. Submitting the confirmation of the appointment to be present at a certain time at a location where the vaccination is administered, shall be deemed as sufficient proof in this regard. If the confirmation does not indicate when the worker must be present at a place where the vaccination is administered, the invitation must also be submitted.

What about privacy?

After checking the vaccination invitation or the appointment confirmation, the employer may - in line with the advice of the Data Protection Authority - only use this information for the purpose of organising the work and providing correct payroll administration. The employer is therefore not permitted to make a copy of the appointment confirmation in any form, or to manually transfer the information it contains, with the exception of the time of the appointment.

The employer must also book the absence as a minor time loss applying the usual code or reference with which the minor time loss is indicated so that it is indistinguishable from the other cases of minor time loss. This way, employers are prevented from actually creating a list of vaccinated workers.

In the current vaccination strategy, at risk patients, along with the over-65s, are invited earlier for vaccination. An employer may never register or record that a particular employee may have health problems based on the time of inclusion of the minor time loss.

Do you have any questions about the vaccination leave?

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Written by Miet Vanhegen

Juridisch adviseur

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