Is it possible to dismiss or punish an employee for not vaccinating?

Polish employers – after dealing with COVID-19 – have learned their lesson in employee protection, both in formal and operational terms. During the epidemic, procedures were introduced, coronavirus work regulations were developed and the staff was informed about key changes. The superiors also tried to protect the team present in the company as much as possible – the temperature was tested, disinfectants, masks, gloves were guaranteed, distance was kept, and face-to-face meetings were limited. Those who could introduce – remote work, but the overwhelming majority of companies did not and still does not have such a possibility. Entrepreneurs are wondering how to avoid further infections and the consequences of the fourth wave. Many of them encourage their employees to vaccinate, some companies consider introducing their compulsion.

Vaccination is postponed by many people in our country, others are hesitating or unwilling to do so. The discussion about how to get them to vaccinate continues. Many ideas are emerging, including compulsory vaccination for employees, which is very emotional among both employers and employees who still have a lot of doubts about compulsory vaccination against COVID-19.

– The situation is changing very dynamically, but – for now – the employer is not able to force the employee to get vaccinated. Vaccination is voluntary in Poland. Which is confirmed by, among others the catalogue of compulsory vaccinations contained in the regulation of the Minister of Health, which does not mention vaccination against coronavirus as mandatory – says Izabela Lubińska, Head of the Human Resources and Payroll Department at Grupa Progres. – Moreover, the Labour Code indicates that one of the main obligations of the employer is to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions and to care for the life and health of employees (Art. 207 of the Labour Code). This could suggest that the employer has a wide range of rights, but is still limited by the applicable regulations, which at the moment do not make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory. However, there is nothing to prevent the employer from encouraging employees and candidates to vaccinate, and then allow them to do so by, for example, granting additional free time or benefits – he emphasizes.

Under the current regulations, it is not possible to dismiss an employee or reduce his job only because he has not been vaccinated. Such behaviour could be treated as a form of discrimination. Likewise, the team may not be penalized for refusal to vaccinate. However, both employers and employees should be vigilant, as legislative regulations in this matter are not ruled out. There may also be a situation in which the employer decides to transfer the unvaccinated employee to another position – reducing the risk of contamination of other employees. He will also refer to the current regulations related to the protection of other employees’ health and health and safety rules. If such a position is not able to ensure the continued performance of duties – by an unvaccinated employee – in a given company, it may turn out to be impossible and lead to the termination of the employment contract.


Region Gdański NSZZ „Solidarność”

Projekt otrzymał dofinansowanie z Norwegii poprzez Fundusze Norweskie 2014-2021, w ramach programu „Dialog społeczny – godna praca”.

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