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New Act allows companies to test employees for coronavirus

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Legal news
calendar 19 November 2020
globus Denmark

The Danish Parliament has just adopted a new Act that will enable companies to test employees for coronavirus and to receive the test result. The Act thereby expands companies’ former options to require employees to be tested for coronavirus. This means that companies will be able to require testing for coronavirus as long as the request is objectively justified in the interests of limiting the spread of coronavirus or in significant operational considerations.

The new Act significantly expands companies’ possibilities to require employees to be tested for coronavirus. Under previously rules, the possibility for companies to receive information about an employee’s health were very limited. Consequently, the requirements for testing under the previously rules presumed, among other things, that the information was of significant importance for the employees’ ability to work and that the working conditions specifically supported it, or that the information was justified with reference to significant operational reasons. In both cases, however, companies also had to meet several additional requirements before testing could be carried out.

With the new Act companies may require that one or more employees are tested for coronavirus as soon as possible. Companies will at the same time be allowed to receive the test result as soon as the employee receives the result – either electronically or in the form of a solemn declaration. The Act will only provide a temporary access to require testing for coronavirus until 1 July 2020.

When and how can companies test for coronavirus?

Before companies consider issuing requirements for testing, it is important to be aware that the Act contains several requirements and procedures.

First of all, companies can only require employees to be tested for coronavirus if it is objectively justified in order to limit the spread of coronavirus, including working environment considerations or significant operational considerations. Accordingly, testing could for example be considered as objectively justified if the reason is based on requirements from customers of the company’s products that special precautions must have been taken against coronavirus. Oppositely, testing would not necessarily be considered as objectively justified if the employee is not in contact with humans or animals during the working day.

Besides for testing having to be objectively justified, companies must also satisfy some additional requirements, including:

  • Comply with information and consultation requirements in accordance with applicable legislation and collective bargaining agreements

  • Written information that there is a requirement for testing for coronavirus, the reason for this, test options and how quickly the test result is requested

  • As far as possible ensure that testing is performed during the affected employees’ working hours

  • Ensure that testing is carried out in a safe manner, regardless of whether the test is carried out at the workplace or not. In any case, testing must be carried out by a qualified physician

The new rules provide for an exceptional access to test for coronavirus. This means that the Act will not enable companies to require testing for antibodies to coronavirus or other diseases and health information.

IUNO’s opinion

The new Act intends to meet the continued increasing demand from many companies to be able to test employees for coronavirus – for example, to counteract lockdown as a result of outbreaks or to meet requirements from other countries for necessary measures in the workplace.

IUNO recommends that companies read through the new requirements thoroughly before requiring testing of employees pursuant to the new rules. This also applies before the company considers any potential sanctions against employees who refuse to undergo testing. At the same time, companies must of course be aware that the general data protection rules continue to apply, and that any processing activity must take place on a legal basis and in accordance with the general processing principles.

The new Act enters into force on 20 November 2020.

[Act on employers’ option to require employees to be tested for coronavirus passed 19 November 2020]

The new Act significantly expands companies’ possibilities to require employees to be tested for coronavirus. Under previously rules, the possibility for companies to receive information about an employee’s health were very limited. Consequently, the requirements for testing under the previously rules presumed, among other things, that the information was of significant importance for the employees’ ability to work and that the working conditions specifically supported it, or that the information was justified with reference to significant operational reasons. In both cases, however, companies also had to meet several additional requirements before testing could be carried out.

With the new Act companies may require that one or more employees are tested for coronavirus as soon as possible. Companies will at the same time be allowed to receive the test result as soon as the employee receives the result – either electronically or in the form of a solemn declaration. The Act will only provide a temporary access to require testing for coronavirus until 1 July 2020.

When and how can companies test for coronavirus?

Before companies consider issuing requirements for testing, it is important to be aware that the Act contains several requirements and procedures.

First of all, companies can only require employees to be tested for coronavirus if it is objectively justified in order to limit the spread of coronavirus, including working environment considerations or significant operational considerations. Accordingly, testing could for example be considered as objectively justified if the reason is based on requirements from customers of the company’s products that special precautions must have been taken against coronavirus. Oppositely, testing would not necessarily be considered as objectively justified if the employee is not in contact with humans or animals during the working day.

Besides for testing having to be objectively justified, companies must also satisfy some additional requirements, including:

  • Comply with information and consultation requirements in accordance with applicable legislation and collective bargaining agreements

  • Written information that there is a requirement for testing for coronavirus, the reason for this, test options and how quickly the test result is requested

  • As far as possible ensure that testing is performed during the affected employees’ working hours

  • Ensure that testing is carried out in a safe manner, regardless of whether the test is carried out at the workplace or not. In any case, testing must be carried out by a qualified physician

The new rules provide for an exceptional access to test for coronavirus. This means that the Act will not enable companies to require testing for antibodies to coronavirus or other diseases and health information.

IUNO’s opinion

The new Act intends to meet the continued increasing demand from many companies to be able to test employees for coronavirus – for example, to counteract lockdown as a result of outbreaks or to meet requirements from other countries for necessary measures in the workplace.

IUNO recommends that companies read through the new requirements thoroughly before requiring testing of employees pursuant to the new rules. This also applies before the company considers any potential sanctions against employees who refuse to undergo testing. At the same time, companies must of course be aware that the general data protection rules continue to apply, and that any processing activity must take place on a legal basis and in accordance with the general processing principles.

The new Act enters into force on 20 November 2020.

[Act on employers’ option to require employees to be tested for coronavirus passed 19 November 2020]

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Etgen Reitz

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Hessellund Klausen

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Kirsten

Astrup

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Nina

Kumari

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Cecillie

Cathrine Groth Henriksen

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