Debate about vaccination status queries: Too much or too little information?

Status: 03.09.2021 2:38 p.m.

For some it is going too far, for others not far enough: the right of employers to obtain information about the vaccination status of their employees is controversial. The coalition partners’ compromise does not appeal to either employers or unions.

The compromise between the coalition partners Union and SPD on the question of the vaccination status query by employers has met with criticism. Both trade unions and employers objected to the planned regulation – but for conflicting reasons. While the unions see data protection at risk, the employers would have liked to have had an even more extensive right to information.

“For good reason, personal data are under special protection in Germany. We have to guarantee this protection,” said the chairwoman of the Education and Science Union (GEW), Maike Finnern, of the dpa news agency. The chairman of the Association for Education and Upbringing (VBE), Udo Beckmann, spoke of a vaccination rate of around 90 percent among teachers, citing surveys and data from the school ministries. “From the VBE’s point of view, these figures in no way justify the encroachment on personal rights associated with querying the vaccination status.” The German Teachers’ Association said that they were very skeptical of the grand coalition’s plan. Association president Heinz-Peter Meidinger expressed the fear to the dpa that “this is only the preliminary stage to a general compulsory vaccination”.

Employer President Rainer Dulger, however, spoke of a “mini expansion” of the right to information. Anyone who rightly demands full commitment to the health protection of employees from the company should not shy away from the right to information, said Dulger. “It is astonishing that a blockade by a coalition partner has put obstacles in the way of occupational health protection.”

Employers in sensitive areas are allowed to inquire about vaccination status

The Union and the SPD had previously agreed that employers will in future be able to query the vaccination status of their employees in particularly sensitive areas such as care for the elderly and childcare. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) argued in the magazine “Der Spiegel” that for many years it has been “for good reason” that hospitals should ask their employees in patient contact whether they have been vaccinated against infectious diseases. “In this pandemic, we want to extend this right to information to other areas,” said Spahn.

Specifically, the rule is to apply in future in day care centers, schools, in partially and fully inpatient care and disabled facilities as well as homeless and asylum seekers accommodation and also prisons. Employers in these areas are given the option of querying the vaccination status of their employees and, if necessary, taking measures to keep the risk of infection as low as possible. There should not be an even broader obligation to provide information, for example to enable work in an open-plan office.

The budget committee of the Bundestag has already decided on the submission of the grand coalition. It should also be passed by parliament next Tuesday. The right to be consulted applies as long as an epidemic situation of national scope has been established, which the Bundestag had last extended to November 24th.

Debate within the coalition

The compromise was preceded by a debate between the coalition parties in which the CDU agreed with the employers’ side, while the SPD represented the views of the unions. After hours of consultation on Thursday, they met in the middle – with the right to information only in selected areas and not in all industries.

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) defended this agreement. “That we make information about the vaccination status possible for the time of the pandemic in the area where vulnerable groups are affected, I find that justifiable and then makes it possible for the employer to deal with it and take care of its operation organize that there is little danger for those to be protected, “he said at a discussion with ver.di boss Frank Werneke. He believes the move will be supported by citizens “with a large majority”. He emphasized that the regulation would only apply for a limited time. Labor law consequences are not associated with it. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) also described the plans as “pragmatic solutions”.

Health Minister Spahn had previously regretted that there was no more far-reaching regulation. “It would make sense. But I don’t see a majority in parliament for that at the moment,” said Spahn in the Deutschlandfunk. The SPD insists that the unions pull along at this point. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) also pleaded for a more comprehensive Impstatus query. He described the agreement that has now been launched as a “first important step”. But he is “convinced that further steps are necessary and necessary”.

Query of the corona vaccination status should be possible to a limited extent

Alfred Schmit, ARD Berlin, September 3, 2021 7:24 am

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