FOR MEMBERS

Can my boss in Germany sack me if I’m not vaccinated against Covid?

Can my boss in Germany sack me if I’m not vaccinated against Covid?
A vaccine is prepared at a pharmacist in Dortmund. Photo: dpa | David Inderlied
There is some disagreement among legal experts over whether refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19 could in some circumstances be a justified reason for dismissal. Here’s what you need to know.

There are no vaccine mandates in Germany, even for people such as nurses and doctors who work in close contact with sick and vulnerable people. 

Ultimately, the German government strongly recommends getting vaccinated but has made clear that it has no intention of introducing mandatory vaccines.

That means that it should be impossible for an employer to sack you if you choose not to get jabbed.

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

But it’s not actually that simple. Some lawyers have expressed the opinion that employers in certain sectors could have grounds to sack an unvaccinated employee.

Esther Beckhove, a lawyer who specialises in labour law, writes that a dismissal could take place if a customer refuses to work with an unvaccinated employee.

But Beckhove states that the employer would first have to do everything in their power to find a compromise or to find a different role for the employee. “Only if these two alternatives are not possible is a dismissal for personal reasons possible.”

This legal opinion is contentious though. Trade unions argue that health workers and customers have the chance to protect themselves through vaccination and therefore cannot demand that other people be vaccinated in order to ensure their own safety.

Beckhove also points out that the laws protecting employees from dismissal only apply to companies with more than 10 full time employees. Smaller firms can terminate a contract without providing a justification.

Philipp Kranz, a lawyer from the Frankfurt region, has also said that he sees refusal to get vaccinated as a grounds for dismissal in some jobs.

“Dismissal would be conceivable in occupations that typically involve frequent and close contact with other people – who may even be particularly vulnerable due to illness or age – for example in medicine or nursing,” Kranz wrote on a legal blog back in April. 

He added though that this presupposes that employees have been made aware of the possible consequences under labour law beforehand.

Up until now, no cases of companies sacking employees because they refuse to be vaccinated have appeared in the German media.

Labour lawyers say though that they have had increasing numbers of calls from people whose bosses have threatened them with the sack if they don’t get jabbed.

“We are currently hearing more and more about such cases in our legal practice. Pressure is being exerted to convince those willing to be vaccinated,” labour lawyer Arndt Kempgens told broadcaster ARD.

Kempgens made clear that such threats are illegal and employees could consider taking out a court injunction should the boss persist with such threats.

SEE ALSO: Germany’s Covid vaccination rate higher than official stats, says RKI

In September, the government updated its disease protection law to allow employers in certain professions to ask employees whether they’ve been vaccinated.

The requirement was made for people working in nurseries, schools, prisons and other workplaces where close contact is unavoidable.

Health Minister Jens Spahn made clear at the time that the law did not give employers the right to sack staff who had not had a Covid jab. But it does allow for sacking employees who refuse to confirm whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.