Uruguay: Q&A - Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Policies (Updated!)

Can an employer require compulsory vaccination? If yes, are there any exceptions or special circumstances that an employer must consider?

Unless the law states a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination campaign, in principle employers will not be entitled to compulsory require it to an employee. The only requirement in terms of health that the employer can and should require is a “Health Control” certificate, that up to now, does not require any kind of COVID-19 vaccination.

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?

Employees can refuse to be vaccinated.

Eventually, an employer may take additional health measures regarding those employees who were not vaccinated, if the employment environment justifies that.

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?

In Uruguay, it is not necessary to prove or state a just cause for dismissal. The only requirement is in case of gross misbehavior, because only in that case, the employee will not be entitled to dismissal compensation. Refusing to be vaccinated, cannot be considered as a gross misbehavior hypothesis.

Nevertheless, dismissing an employee because of a refusal to be vaccinated, may be seen by a labor court as an unfair or discriminatory dismissal (which enables the employee to receive a higher dismissal compensation). Unless, in for some positions, if the specific work performed by the employee or the employer, justifies the need of vaccination (even not being compulsory required by law).

What benefits or accommodations do employers have to make for vaccinated employees?

There are no regulations regarding this issue.

Can vaccinated employees refuse to work in the same vicinity as employees who are not vaccinated?

There are no specific regulations. In principle, if the employer complies with all the COVID-19 prevention protocols, vaccinated employees cannot refuse to work.

In your country, are employers required to provide paid leave for employees to get vaccinated?

Yes. Employers should pay 4 hours' leave for vaccination purposes.

Contributor

Santiago Madalena, Guyer & Regules
smadalena@guyer.com.uy