As a result of a 52-27 parliamentary vote on Thursday, businesses will be able to lay off workers without vaccination certifications. This, according to the Latvian Ministry of Justice, is enough grounds to believe the employee does not meet the job’s requirements. Staff who fail to heed to demands to get jabbed, or to be transferred to remote work, can now be suspended without pay.
If the worker does not comply with the jab requirement within three months of their suspension, they run the risk of being fired by their employer. Exceptions will be made for people who have recovered from the illness though they must provide proof.
The new law will come into effect on November 15 as Latvia exits a lockdown that required non-essential shops and businesses to shut their doors and citizens ordered to stay at home for almost a month. A curfew between 8pm and 5am was also introduced for the establishments allowed to remain open.
Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins warned Latvians last month that the country’s “healthcare system is in danger [and] the only way out of this crisis is to get vaccinated.” The inoculation rate of the Baltic nation, home to 1.9 million, remains significantly lower than the EU average of around 75% fully inoculated. Just over 54% of Latvian residents have completed a vaccination course, including 63% of adults.
While Latvia is the latest nation to turn measures against unvaccinated employees into a law, other countries have resorted to a similar policy without setting it in stone. In neighboring Russia, a guidance from the Moscow city authorities was issued in June saying that employers are obliged to suspend staff who refuse to get jabbed. The order effectively means the employees run the risk of being sent home without pay if there are no valid health grounds for them not getting immunized.
Meanwhile in the EU, strict nationwide vaccination requirements for all employees have sparked mass protests in Italy, while countries like France and Greece have recently seen crowds of demonstrators denouncing the widespread introduction of the ‘green pass’ system of Covid certificates.
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