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Requirement to show corona passports did not cross the border

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Legal news
calendar 22 January 2023
globus Sweden

In a recent case, several employees challenged that they needed to show a valid corona passport upon request from their manager. However, the Court of Appeal ultimately found that the requirement was lawful. The Court of Appeal emphasized that employees who did not show a corona passport were offered alternative work tasks.

During the pandemic, all employees in a region in central Sweden were informed that they had to show a corona passport upon request. The requirement intended to protect the patients with whom the employees in the health sector were in contact.

All employees became subject to the requirement. The reason was that even the employees without direct contact with the patients had indirect contact during lunch, delivery of materials, cleaning, and other activities. A general requirement affecting all employees was, therefore, considered the only way to protect the patients against infection with coronavirus.

Employees were not actually forced to be vaccinated

According to the Court of Appeal, it was lawful to require all employees to show a corona passport confirming their vaccination status to ensure health and safety at the workplace.

The Court of Appeal emphasized that the requirement did not actually force the employees to be vaccinated. Instead of termination, employees who refused to show a corona passport would simply be offered relocation or alternative work tasks. The court also stressed that none of the employees had a reason to conclude that a refusal to adhere to the requirement would lead to the termination of his or her employment.

IUNO opinion

This case is one of the first examples showing how a requirement to show a corona passport can be acceptable. However, the case shows that the ability to terminate employees for refusing to share their vaccination status is limited. While the case involved a public employer, similar restrictions may apply to private employers, Therefore, companies should first asses if it is possible to reassign or change the work tasks before considering termination. We have previously written about the possibility of requiring corona passports here.

IUNO recommends that companies consider whether such a requirement really is necessary to ensure that the requirement to show corona passports is lawful. Companies should also be aware that employees must not feel compelled to get vaccinated because of the requirement.

[Administrative Court of Appeal of Sundsvall’s case 756-22 of 12 December 2022]

During the pandemic, all employees in a region in central Sweden were informed that they had to show a corona passport upon request. The requirement intended to protect the patients with whom the employees in the health sector were in contact.

All employees became subject to the requirement. The reason was that even the employees without direct contact with the patients had indirect contact during lunch, delivery of materials, cleaning, and other activities. A general requirement affecting all employees was, therefore, considered the only way to protect the patients against infection with coronavirus.

Employees were not actually forced to be vaccinated

According to the Court of Appeal, it was lawful to require all employees to show a corona passport confirming their vaccination status to ensure health and safety at the workplace.

The Court of Appeal emphasized that the requirement did not actually force the employees to be vaccinated. Instead of termination, employees who refused to show a corona passport would simply be offered relocation or alternative work tasks. The court also stressed that none of the employees had a reason to conclude that a refusal to adhere to the requirement would lead to the termination of his or her employment.

IUNO opinion

This case is one of the first examples showing how a requirement to show a corona passport can be acceptable. However, the case shows that the ability to terminate employees for refusing to share their vaccination status is limited. While the case involved a public employer, similar restrictions may apply to private employers, Therefore, companies should first asses if it is possible to reassign or change the work tasks before considering termination. We have previously written about the possibility of requiring corona passports here.

IUNO recommends that companies consider whether such a requirement really is necessary to ensure that the requirement to show corona passports is lawful. Companies should also be aware that employees must not feel compelled to get vaccinated because of the requirement.

[Administrative Court of Appeal of Sundsvall’s case 756-22 of 12 December 2022]

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Petra

Enmalm

Head of HR Legal, Sweden

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The team

Akina

Ørum Masaki

Legal advisor

Alexandra

Jensen

Legal advisor

Amalie

Starup Poulsen

Legal advisor

Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Cecillie

Groth Henriksen

Associate

Emma

Sandner

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Johan

Gustav Dein

Associate

Julie

Meyer

Legal assistant

Kirsten

Astrup

Senior associate

Petra

Enmalm

Head of HR Legal, Sweden

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Senior associate

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

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