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Prime Minister Kallas: A coronavirus-safe working environment will preserve jobs

13. August 2021 - 14:01

Stenbock House, 12 August 2021 – The Government approved a regulation on biological hazards, which allows employers to ask workers for proof of recovery from COVID-19, proof of a negative test result, or proof of vaccination as an additional preventive measure. It is a responsibility of the employer to identify the risk of infection in the workplace through a workplace risk assessment to better protect the health of both employees and customers.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that the epidemic spread of the coronavirus obliges both the government and employers to ensure the safest possible working environment so that working life could continue normally. “There are approximately 600,000 salaried workers and we know that the virus is currently spreading first and foremost among the working age population. We in the government have taken steps to ensure that people are safe in public spaces, but in the context of the epidemic, it is essential that going to work is as safe as possible for the worker themselves, their co-workers, and customers. In the face of upward infection trends, making the workplace coronavirus-safe will help us to protect people’s health, preserve jobs, and prevent further restrictions.”

According to Tanel Kiik, Minister of Health and Labour, increasing the safety of the working environment is necessary, because in order to prevent the spread of the virus, it is important not only to ensure the safety of customers and patients but also the safety of the workers coming into contact with them. “Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect one’s health and the health of others and to keep society open. However, it is up to the employer to choose specific measures and consider alternatives based on the level of risk and their own capabilities.”

Based on a risk assessment of the working environment, the employer may start requiring workers who come into contact with many people to present proof of their infection safety or to take other measures that reduce the risk of infection, e.g., the use of personal protective equipment. Infection safety can be proved by a certificate of recovery from COVID-19, a certificate of a negative test result, or a vaccination certificate.

In drafting the regulation, opinions were asked from the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation, the Estonian Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the Labour Inspectorate, the Health Board, the Estonian Employees’ Unions’ Confederation (TALO), MTÜ Eesti Personalijuhtimise Ühing PARE, and the Estonian Society of Occupational Health Physicians.

The Government Communication Unit will publish the regulation and the explanatory memorandum on the website kriis.ee