Danish employment update: compulsory COVID-19 testing
In Denmark, the Danish government has only just recently passed legislation on Thursday 19th November that will permit compulsory mass coronavirus testing for company employees. Companies will be allowed to enforce mandatory coronavirus testing on their employees, including employees being obliged to disclose their test results to their employers. This new law is scheduled to take effect from 1st January 2021 and last for a period of six months up until 6th July of next year.
The rationale behind this new enactment is to curb the mushrooming of coronavirus in the workplace whilst ensuring tougher safeguards are in place and operations are maintained to protect both employers and employees from catching the virus. In addition, there is a concerted effort, like other countries, to uphold a balance between keeping businesses operating during this pandemic whilst maintaining individual liberty with minimal restrictions as possible.
However, the nature of this legislation is somewhat austere. Employers will be required to cover the cost of these tests for each individual employee and should employees refuse to take a test, they may be liable to sanctions. Hence, there is an air of seriousness around the issue of non-compliance with this new law.
Ultimately, although this comes at an extra cost for employers and will be a mandatory instruction for their employees, this may aid employers in how they respond to potential outbreaks in the workplace. In addition, should the transmission of COVID-19 be at a high risk, employers will have time to implement or maintain policies and procedures to protect both employers and employees in the workplace, especially where company individuals are vulnerable.
But is this a steppingstone towards enforced vaccination?
Considering the new developments of a vaccine, which is scheduled to be rolled out soon in the UK, there is a sense of uneasiness around employers being able to legally enforce coronavirus testing on employees. This could get the ball rolling towards allowing companies to legally enforce mandatory vaccination on their employees. Like this new legislation, employees may also face being penalised, or sanctions should they refuse to be vaccinated, whatever their circumstances.
In the presence of a concrete vaccine, employers can mitigate the COVID-19 risks in the work environment if employees pass up the chance to undertake vaccination by simply requiring them to take a test. This way, they can implement cautionary measures to ensure they do not pass this on in the corporate environment, such as by working form home and so forth. Indeed, this could be a favourable argument for international governments such as the UK to implement a similar law, in a bid to keep business operations constant.
The only concern here is that this and even an employee’s non-acceptance to take a test and a vaccine comprises the relationship that employers and employees share. Not to mention the weakening of individual civil liberties.
Or perhaps, employers may be reluctant to follow through with this new law because this could put pressure on employer and employee relationships. Plus, companies may not feel comfortable with the idea of taking disciplinary action on their staff for not complying with taking a test or the vaccine. How they can force them to take something against their will, especially since this vaccination is supposedly mean to be optional, for now at least.
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