Due to the history of surveillance of citizens by Nazi and communist countries, Germany has enacted strict data privacy laws.
Ministers said on Wednesday that the German government is studying whether it can temporarily relax data privacy regulations to allow companies to know whether their employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Many countries/regions require medical staff and public sector workers to be vaccinated, and some companies—especially in the United States—have begun to require employees to be vaccinated.
However, due to the history of surveillance of citizens by Nazi and communist countries, Germany has enacted strict data privacy laws, which means that companies have no right to know about health issues related to their employees.
German companies have been trying to ask their employees about the vaccination status. As the infection rate rises again, the government is trying to get more people vaccinated. Almost 61% of the population has been vaccinated twice at the same time, and 65% have been vaccinated at least once.
The Cabinet agreed on Wednesday that the company must give employees time to vaccinate, and said that when the company decides to take protective measures, it can consider the vaccinations of its employees, if they know it.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the government is studying whether to allow companies to ask about vaccinations, especially jobs he describes as fragile.
He said that there have been difficult discussions on this issue within the coalition government, especially between the Labor Minister Hubertus Heil from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Health Minister Jens Spahn from the Christian Democratic Party.
Haier told the ARD TV station that he knows that many employees are also interested in knowing the vaccinations of colleagues, but the law stipulates that employers cannot request it.
“Employees’ health data is particularly sensitive,” Attorney General Christine Lambrecht, also from SPD, told Funke Media Group, but added that employers may be granted the right to access this information in risky workplaces.
Heil said that pragmatic solutions are needed, for example, in hospitals or prisons.
Exemptions have been made to privacy laws to allow restaurants to reopen, and employees and customers must prove that they have been vaccinated, cured, or tested negative.
Thousands of people marched on the streets of Berlin on Saturday and Sunday to protest unauthorized vaccination and restrictions on the coronavirus.
The country reported 13,531 new cases and 23 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to more than 3.9 million and the death toll to 92,223.