Some Israeli Workplaces Require Use of ‘Green Pass’

Global HR

​Esther Solomon’s job didn’t stop when the pandemic hit. As the opinion editor of Haaretz English, headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, she continued to work from home throughout the year that her office remained closed. Trying to focus on her job while simultaneously shepherding four children through home learning was challenging, so when her office opened again, she was eager to be back on the premises. In order to do so, Solomon and her colleagues needed to show their Green Pass to prove vaccination.

“No one is allowed through the front door unless they’ve uploaded their Green Pass into the HR system,” Solomon said.

Availability to All Vaccinated or Recently Recovered Citizens

Israel’s Green Pass is available to all citizens who have been fully vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19 and is required to enter many public areas and facilities. Most people are required to have three shots in order to acquire a Green Pass, unless their second shot was within the previous six months. However, it is not explicitly required to enter the workplace, and companies have been able to elect whether to check Green Passes to enter the premises.

“It’s very important to understand that under Israeli law, there are no general regulations with respect to the Green Pass within the workplace,” said Orly Gerbi, an attorney with Herzog Fox & Neeman in Tel Aviv. Instead, employment lawyers have had to fill the gaps to interpret how to implement any sort of vaccine requirement at work. 

“Every employer has the obligation to provide its employees with a safe and healthy environment. This is a general obligation that every employer has at all times,” Gerbi said. “Based on this and based on the fact that we are facing a very unique and extreme situation of a pandemic, then the balance between the rights of all the employees in the workplace to be healthy and safe and the rights of the individual will shift to a different place than usual.”

Alternatives to Vaccination

Employers can offer alternatives to employees who choose not to get vaccinated and acquire a Green Pass, such as allowing continued work from home if possible, or accepting a recent negative COVID-19 test as a replacement for the pass. If an employee cannot work from home or refuses to get tested, and all alternatives have been exhausted, it might be necessary to terminate the employee. 

“If the employee refuses, or does not present the Green Pass, and refuses to take the COVID test, and the employer doesn’t find other alternatives such as working remotely or in another position, then I think that under the circumstances and subject to the local process involved in termination, this would be a reasonable outcome to consider,” Gerbi said.

Despite concerns over privacy and personal choice, Israel’s use of the Green Pass has so far sustained legal challenges. 

“The Supreme Court rejected petitions to cancel the Green Pass. In addition, there were several petitions to the labor courts to prohibit employers from imposing limitations on entry to workplaces from employees who refuse to vaccinate or present a negative Covid test result,” Gerbi said. “But the labor courts rejected most of these petitions.”

Despite Some Dissent, Green Pass Is Popular

Even with some dissent, the use of the Green Pass is widely popular, as Israel continues to pull itself out of the pandemic. 

“I think that the system in itself has a simple definition and simple implementation. The only thing that needs to actually happen is for people to actually check it,” Solomon said. The Green Pass system “seems pretty transparent and fair. But so many places don’t bother to check [the pass], that its efficiency is questionable. There are some places that are quite strict, and some places that don’t care.”

The recent wave of COVID-19 infections is mostly among the unvaccinated and people have noticed. “People see the numbers,” Gerbi said. “People see that their chances of getting infected are lower when they are vaccinated, and they don’t want others to infect them.”

“If [vaccination] can be helped by economic incentives or pressure, like the Green Pass, in terms of place of employment, then all the better,” Solomon said. “It’s clear from the evidence from Italy and the United States and other places that when you put pressure in terms of vaccination requirements, then more people get vaccinated.”

Katie Nadworny is a freelance writer in Istanbul. 

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