Barbados – Covid19 and Human Rights

Barbados Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan: Employers can’t dismiss workers for not taking COVID-19 vaccination

June 13, 2021

Employers in Barbados cannot simply dismiss workers for not taking the COVID-19 vaccination.

Workers in Barbados are protected by the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Act, which, among other things, prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a person’s medical condition. Additionally, employers are prohibited from requiring a person to be tested for a medical condition either as a precondition for entering into a contract of employment or as a condition for continuing employment. This prohibition is subject to if the test or knowledge of a medical condition is required because of what is called a genuine occupational qualification.

A genuine occupational qualification is when a requirement is an inherent requirement or absolutely necessary for a particular position or function. There could also be a legal requirement — as in the case of persons working with food preparation and serving who are required to have a medical certificate (known as a food handling certificate) allowing them to work with food. Another example would be if a person is being hired for a position that requires travel to a country which mandates having a Yellow Fever vaccination for entry into the country. The worker will need to have the vaccine if he or she is going to be employed in that role.

It would be for an employer to prove that the vaccination or test is absolutely necessary in order for him/her to function in the particular capacity.

Workers in Barbados are also protected on the basis of their religious beliefs.

Barbados has not made the taking of a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory and so there is no legislation legislation that requires a worker to be vaccinated.

We remain committed to following the science. That science says that the risk of transmission is significantly increased when a person is in close contact with an infected person for a prolonged period of time without a barrier to their nose or mouth (face mask) in an enclosed area and is not practicing good hand hygiene.

All of us need to follow the protocols established in the Directives.

We also remain strongly of the view that Barbadians should get vaccinated – for their own protection and that of their close relatives and dependents, particularly older relatives and dependents, and relatives/dependents with medical conditions that cause them to be at greater risk.

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