[author: Nuno Ferreira Morgado]*
WLG asked member firms around the globe to provide some insight on employer and employee rights when it comes to requiring the COVID-19 vaccine to return to work. Responses for Portugal have been updated with new questions since its initial publication in January. (View responses from other countries here.)
Can an employer require compulsory vaccination? If yes, are there any exceptions or special circumstances that an employer must consider?
No. Employers cannot require compulsory vaccination. Vaccination is recommended but in no case mandatory. Employees who refuse to vaccinate may be subject to additional health and safety measures to mitigate risks of infection.
Can employees refuse to be vaccinated? How does an employer need to balance its obligation to provide a safe work environment with an employee’s rights?
Yes, employees can refuse to be vaccinated. In such a scenario, employers are required to adopt and impose to those employees, additional health and safety measures to mitigate risks of infection.
In the event of a refusal, can an employee be dismissed for refusal to comply with the employer’s vaccination policy? Will the employee’s refusal constitute just cause for termination?
No. Such conduct does not qualify as grounds for dismissal with just cause.
What benefits or accommodations do employers have to make for vaccinated employees?
No benefits or accommodations are provided by law.
Can vaccinated employees refuse to work in the same vicinity as employees who are not vaccinated?
No. Employers are required to adopt and impose to such employees, additional health and safety measures to mitigate risks of infection.
In your country, are employers required to provide paid leave for employees to get vaccinated?
No. However, please note that the absence for vaccination purposes qualifies as a remunerated justified absence, as do the absences that may arise due to side effects that prevent the employee from work or cause subsequent illness.