TALLINN – The Estonian government on Thursday adopted a regulation on biological hazards, which allows employers to ask workers for proof of recovery from the COVID-19 illness, proof of a negative test result, or proof of vaccination as an additional preventive measure.
It is a responsibility of the employer to find out about the risk of infection in the workplace through a workplace risk assessment, in order to better protect the health of both employees and customers.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in a press release that the epidemic spread of the coronavirus obliges both the government and employers to ensure the safest possible working environment so that working life can continue normally.
"There are approximately 600,000 salaried employees in Estonia and we know that the virus is currently spreading first and foremost among the working age population. We in the government have taken steps to ensure that people are safe in public spaces, but in the context of an epidemic, it is essential that also those going to work are as safe as possible for themselves, their colleagues and customers. In the face of rising infection trends, making the workplace safe for COVID-19 will help us to protect people's health, preserve jobs and prevent further restrictions," the prime minister said.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik described increasing the safety of the work environment as necessary, because in order to prevent the spread of the virus, it is important not only to ensure the safety of customers and patients, but also that the workers coming into contact with them are as safe from infection as possible.
"Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect one's own health and the health of others, and to keep society open. However, it is up to the employer to choose specific measures and consider alternatives, according to the magnitude of risks and their own capabilities," Kiik said.
Based on a risk assessment of the working environment, the employer may start requiring workers who come into contact with many people to produce proof of their infection safety or to take other measures that reduce the risk of infection, such as the use of personal protective equipment. Infection safety can be proved by a certificate of recovery from COVID-19, a test certificate with a negative result, or a vaccination certificate.
In the drafting of the regulation, opinions were asked from the Estonian Employers' Confederation, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation, the Estonian Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the Labor Inspectorate, the Health Board, the central organization of civil service trade unions TALO, Estonian Human Resource Management Association PARE and the Estonian Association of Occupational Health Doctors.