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CHATA discusses vaccination rights and obligations on the work floor

During roundtable discussion with HR members

WILLEMSTAD- December 9, 2021 – Yesterday, CHATA hosted a roundtable discussion for its HR members. For yesterday’s roundtable discussion with the topic “COVID-19 vaccine – rights and obligations on the work floor”, CHATA invited employment law specialist and attorney of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne, Ms. Daniëlla Engelhardt.

To kick off the morning, CHATA’s Managing Director, Mrs. Maria-Helena Seferina, welcomed those present and gave a brief introduction on the importance of the topic in the sector. “As we all know the Covid- 19 pandemic has disrupted labor markets globally, it is important to know how the pandemic has affected Curaçao’s workforce”. Ms. Engelhardt started her presentation elaborating on the many challenges companies are dealing with due to the pandemic, specifically focusing on the question whether an employer should be able to dismiss an employee due to the fact that the employee refuses to get vaccinated.

Ms. Engelhardt discussed the topic based on various practical local and international court cases. As to date there is no statutory obligation in Curacao to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which can lead to challenges on the work floor and ultimately employers in many instances facing the challenge to come up with the best workable solutions for their people and their business. Evaluating the various cases, it can be concluded that in principle, an employer cannot mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Furthermore, an immediate dismissal of the employment agreement is generally not permitted. However, depending on the specific circumstances of the case, a Court might rule that mandating the COVID-19 vaccine and thus infringing a fundamental right of an employee would be allowed, though such will not easily be the case and will ultimately have to be determined by the Court.

Most of the group concluded that stimulation of vaccinations continues to be important, and it is important for employers ahead of time to think about the possibility that our government at one time in the future, will implement legislation, based on which there would be an obligation to get vaccinated, which other countries, like the U.S.A. but also closer to home, the French side of Saint Martin, are doing already for certain specific sectors.

In any event, depending on how the virus continues to develop, we have to take into consideration that it might become a statutory obligation in the future for employees to get vaccinated. For now, the expectation is that there will be more and more litigation in this respect, which will mostly determine the parameters between which employers and employees can maneuver.

CHATA looks forward to continuing these meetings to stimulate interesting discussions and open windows of opportunity.

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