European Space Agency demanding staff vaccinate or test negative for Covid
The nearly 3,000 employees of the European space agency ESTEC in Noordwijk have to show that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or at least tested negative for the coronavirus if they want to come into the office. ESTEC implemented this "access pass" requirement six days ago, NRC reports.
Employees who cannot prove they got their jabs or tested negative will have to work from home.
Whether or not employers can get away with this practice in the Netherlands is a bit unclear. It's clear that an employer cannot force an employee to get vaccinated and cannot dismiss an employee for refusing. But asking unvaccinated employees to work from home is more of a gray zone.
Vaccination is voluntary under Dutch law. The law offers "no possibility" for employers to ask for proof of vaccination at work, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment said to NRC.
But the Ministry of Public Health previously told NU.nl that it would not act against businesses that require a vaccination certificate from their staff to work in the office. The Health Ministry would prefer for "employers and employees to work it out together."
"It is not allowed to make vaccinations mandatory," the Ministry said to NU.nl. "In some cases, an employer may agree in consultation with the employee to work from home or wear protective gear. However, it is not allowed to attach further consequences to whether someone has been vaccinated or not."
The European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC) told NRC that it is not forcing its employees to get vaccinated as they can also choose to get tested instead. And tests are done at the organization's expense, not the employees'. Director Franco Ongaro also told NRC that "the Dutch rules regarding health and safety do not apply."