The German government rejected a suggestion on Wednesday that would give employers the right to find out whether their employees are vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Hubertus Heil, the minister of labor and social affairs, said that Germany has strict privacy laws and employers cannot force workers to show such information, although he agreed that pragmatic solutions are needed for places that are at a greater risk of transmitting the CCP virus, such as hospitals or prisons.
“We must act according to the rule of law. Acting under the rule of law means that an employer is not entitled to information about health data…[and] is also not allowed to look at the medical records of an employee, because this is very personal data,” Heil said while speaking to broadcaster ARD, RT reported.
Regarding places that are “at a greater risk,” it is likely that employees will have to show, in the future, that they have either been vaccinated, recently tested negative, or recovered from the CCP virus, although no such law has passed yet.
However, exemptions to Germany’s privacy laws were made in August to allow restaurants to reopen, with staff and customers required to show that they are vaccinated or recently tested negative.
Heil’s remarks do coincide with an agreement from the cabinet on Sept. 1 that ruled employers must allow their employees time off to get vaccinated. Companies deciding on those measures could take into account the vaccination status of their staff if they knew it.
Christine Lambrecht, the minister of justice and consumer protection, told the Funke media group that people’s health information is personal and sensitive, but she agreed that granting employers this information might be possible in risky workplaces.
“Health information of employees is particularly sensitive, and the question of a vaccination against coronavirus is part of that,” Lambrecht said.
Germany, which has one of the lowest recorded death rates per capita in Europe, has previously rejected compulsory vaccinations, saying such a law would undermine public trust. Many countries, including the United States and France, have already made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for healthcare staff, public sector workers, and others.
In France, anger over new CCP virus rules has sparked nationwide protests, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets for weeks straight, accusing the government of overreach and a restriction of people’s freedom.
Reuters contributed to this report.