HR Policy Association

Global Employers Face Challenges From Variations in Vaccine Policy Around the World

Published on: October 1, 2021

Authors: Wenchao Dong

Topics: Latin America

From Europe to Asia, countries vary drastically in their COVID-19 vaccine policies for workers who return to the workplace.  Meanwhile, contrasting laws regarding employment standards, anti-discrimination, privacy, and individual rights make it exceedingly difficult for employers to implement a universal approach on vaccination for their global workforce.

More countries are mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for private sector workers.  HR Policy Global suggests that multinational companies conduct a country-by-country analysis when it comes to workplace vaccination policy.  A brief rundown of various global policy hotspots is below: 

  • Italy approved a new rule, effective in October, mandating all workers to show proof of vaccination, a negative test, or recent recovery from infection.  Any worker who fails to present a valid health certificate will be suspended with no pay but cannot be dismissed.  Additionally, both employers and employees can face a monetary penalty for noncompliance. 
  • Toronto, Canada issued a “strong recommendation” that private employers should require employees to provide proof of vaccination or a medical reason not to be vaccinated and undergo training if they have not been vaccinated.  HR Policy Global facilitated a call concerning these developments [attach the recap link].  
  • A legislative proposal in Argentina could add approved COVID-19 vaccines to the country’s “National Immunization Calendar,” making the vaccine mandatory for all residents. 
  • Vaccination is mandatory in Indonesia, with a fine for any violation.  Employers are allowed to purchase vaccines for their employees by joining the Corporate Vaccination Program. 
  • Saudi Arabia’s mandate, which came into effect on August 1st, requires public and private sector workers to be vaccinated in order to enter the workplace.

Private sector requirements growing: While most governments have limited COVID-19 vaccine mandates to public sector workers, health workers and other high-risk groups, we have seen a trend towards a more stringent and mandatory direction for all employees who enter the workplace.  Global employers are facing tremendous challenges to comply with state and local rules, ensure workplace safety and health, and accommodate employees’ needs.  

Littler International has provided a useful update, "A Littler Global Guide on Legal & Practical Implications in the Workplace for COVID-19 Vaccinations," which you can access here.