Important amendments to employment regulation introduced in Latvia linking vaccination requirements and employment.
The ongoing Covid pandemic has brought about significant changes to the regulation of employment relationships in Latvia. Having one of the most employee-friendly employment laws in the EU so far, Latvia has now introduced a number of legislative measures restricting employees’ discretionary rights as regards vaccination against Covid and allowing for – or even de-facto necessitating – unilateral termination of employment agreements by employers.
In order to combat the overwhelming rise of Covid-19 infections in the country, the Latvian government has introduced a number of temporary rules aimed at limiting the number of personal contacts and spread of the virus. Among others, these measures encompass: compulsory home-office for all employees, save for cases where in-presence work is indispensable due to the nature of the work; vaccination requirement for those working in-presence; one-month transitional period for the unvaccinated, provided testing is ensured every 72 hours; compliance with safety rules, such as distancing and other epidemiological safety measures.
The transition period has been introduced in order to allow employees to obtain a vaccination certificate. If an employee does not comply with this requirement, yet vaccination is needed due to the type of work, refusal to be vaccinated is a sufficient reason to consider that that person does not conform to their work (position). An employer who is not able to transfer that employee to another suitable job or to ensure performance of their working duties remotely has the right to suspend the employee from work or establish downtime due to the employee’s fault, without payment for the suspension or downtime period. However, suspending an employee from work for a period longer than three months is prohibited.
In addition, recent amendments to the law on anti-Covid measures have transformed the vaccination requirement from a temporary measure into a permanent obligation. From January 2022 onwards, only vaccinated employees will be allowed to engage in any activity requiring personal contact. Employees without a valid vaccination certificate will have to be withdrawn from their duties and their employment contracts will be eligible for unilateral termination by the employer.
Amendments to the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers of 28 September 2021 No. 662 “Epidemiological precautions to control the spread of the Covid-19 infection” adopted on 4 November 2021.
Amendments to the Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection adopted on 4 November 2021.