Gero Bongiorno works as the head of research and development at an industrial machinery company in Milan, which is preparing for Italy’s Green Pass for workers. As the Oct. 15 implementation date for the Green Pass approaches, Bongiorno isn’t worried about his own direct reports, who are fully vaccinated. But there are other people in the company who aren’t.
Employers and Employees Prepare for Green Pass
Italy’s Green Pass—a domestic COVID-19 passport that indicates if someone is fully vaccinated or has tested negative for the virus in the last 72 hours—has been required at restaurants, entertainment venues and other public places, but will soon be required for any employees who are working onsite.
“The employer is obliged to verify whether people working in the work environment have the Green Pass,” said Vittorio De Luca, an attorney with De Luca & Partners in Milan. Verification can be done occasionally, he said.
“There must be a policy applicable in the company stating who is responsible to check how and whom, which information may and which may not be checked, and what happens in the case of [the] lack of [a] Green Pass,” De Luca said.
Green Pass and Privacy
Employees have three options to acquire a Green Pass. They can get fully vaccinated, which is the encouraged option. Otherwise, they can present a negative antigen test that allows a Green Pass for 72 hours, or they can prove that they have recently fully recovered from COVID-19. The Green Pass itself does not specify which category an employee falls under, and because of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, companies can’t ask.
“The company cannot ask, ‘Are you vaccinated,’ or ‘Is your Green Pass active because you took the test this morning, or the PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test three days ago,’ ” Bongiorno said.
The employer is free to define who is responsible to verify if employees have the Green Pass. “But the people who are in charge must be formally in charge, that must be part of a policy, [and] the policy must be communicated to the employees,” De Luca said. Even then, the people responsible for checking Green Passes can only see if the person has one, and not under what circumstances.
The Green Pass app just shows “the employee can get into the company or not, no other information in the Green Pass may be subject to examination,” he said.
No Green Pass, No Pay
There are consequences for both employers and employees who don’t abide by the new mandatory requirements. If an employee declares that he or she does not have a Green Pass before entering the workplace, or is found to not have a Green Pass when asked, the employee will be turned away and won’t get paid until he or she gets a Green Pass.
Though the vaccination is not mandatory, the use of the Green Pass and its consequences have already led to an increase in vaccinations, De Luca said.
Bongiorno knows people who were persuaded by the Green Pass requirements at restaurants to get vaccinated earlier in the summer, and he thinks that the Green Pass requirements for employers will persuade many holdouts.
If someone wants to work and doesn’t want to get the vaccine, the employee must pay for tests every couple of days, Bongiorno said. “The more vaccinated people, the easier and faster we get out of the crisis,” he stated.
Katie Nadworny is a freelance writer in Istanbul.