COVID-19 vaccine: Can employees be forced to take them?

Vaccination in Kazakhstan launched on February 1, 2021. It was announced in advance that people from risk groups – medical workers, teachers, law enforcement officers – would be the first to vaccinate. Mass vaccination of the public started in early April.

Now many businesses are considering whether they can force their employees to be vaccinated and fast-track their return to ‘normal’. Can employers insist its personnel be vaccinated to reduce the risk of workplace infection and ensure business continuity? The answer is “it depends”.

These are various factors. Among them are those related to the enterprise industry and the employee’s role in it; there are also existing legal requirements specific to the jurisdiction of a particular country; and relevant case law.

For example, in Kazakhstan, vaccination is free and voluntary. According to Article 77 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On people’s health and the health care system”, any medical procedure, including vaccination, is carried out only with the informed consent of the vaccinated person.

Given the novelty of COVID-19 and the lack of specific legislation related to it, basic principles regarding employment, health and safety of employees, such as the wearing of masks, use of antiseptics and social distancing, should be considered.

Please consider the publication of our global office, which provides some examples of the range of legal positions regarding forced vaccination around the world and demonstrates the importance of businesses obtaining advice specific to their own operations.