Can an employer require compulsory vaccination? If yes, are there any exceptions or special circumstances that an employer must consider?
According to Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation N 825 of 15.07.1999 "On Approval of the List of Works, the Performance of Which is Associated with a High Risk of Infectious Diseases and Requires Mandatory Preventive Vaccinations", an employer may require compulsory vaccination only when an employee performs work related to high risk of contracting infection (e.g., employees working in educational institutions, in organizations dealing with infections, those working with live cultures of pathogens of infectious diseases, etc.). A compulsory vaccination can therefore be required by an employer only in the limited number of cases as listed by this Decree.
Can employees refuse to be vaccinated? How does an employer need to balance its obligation to provide a safe work environment with an employee’s rights?
Yes, employees can refuse to be vaccinated. If they belong to the categories of employees listed in the Government’s Decree mentioned above, they may be suspended from work by their employer. Otherwise, for any other categories of employees, the employer may only offer them to be vaccinated but they may not be suspended from work if they refuse such vaccination.
In the event of a refusal, can an employee be dismissed for refusal to comply with the employer’s vaccination policy? Will the employee’s refusal constitute just cause for termination?
No, according to the applicable legislation, an employee may not be dismissed for refusal to comply with his employer's vaccination policy. However, if the employee belongs to one of the categories of employees indicated in the Government’s Decree referred to under question 1 above, he may be suspended from work without pay. In any case, the employee's refusal may not constitute just cause for termination.
Christophe Huet, CMS Russia
Ekaterina Elekchyan, CMS Russia