Uruguay: Q&A - Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

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, 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 do employers 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 misbehaviour hypothesis.

Nevertheless, dismissing an employee because of a refusal to be vaccinated, may be seen by a labour court as an unfair or discriminatory dismissal (which enables the employee to receive a higher dismissal compensation). This is unless vaccination is set forth as mandatory by the law.

Contributor

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