On October 18, 2021, the Parliament adopted a new law on measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It adds some clarity to the application of health-protection measures in companies. From October 19, 2021, employers are authorized to apply the Covid-check scheme for all or part of their business.
Who falls under the Covid-check scheme?
The scheme applies to “private persons, institutions, public events as well as private ones that can be publicly accessed and where entry is restricted to those who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative.”
Which establishments does this concern?
From November 1, 2021, all establishments belonging to the HORECA sector (hotels, restaurants and catering) are obliged to apply the Covid-check scheme indoors and on an optional basis outdoors.
In other sectors, from October 19, 2021, it is up to employers and heads of administration to decide whether or not to implement this new scheme at their premises for all or part of their business. For example, an employer may elect to implement the Covid-check scheme only for a specific event or for meetings.
Employees will have to present a Covid-check certificate, i.e. a vaccination certificate with a QR code, a recovery certificate with a QR code or a test certificate with a QR code or be certified by an health professional, with evidence of a negative result.
What happens if an employee refuses to present his certificate?
The new law does not foresee any sanctions. However, if the employer decides to implement the Covid-check scheme, it may also decide to impose sanctions in the event an employee refuses to present a certificate, as the employer is under the obligation to ensure health and safety at the workplace. Labor law—including protection for employees against, in particular, unfair dismissal—will be fully enforceable, and in this respect, employers should act with caution to avoid discrimination risks and strike the right balance between their health and safety obligations and respect for their employees’ rights.