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On 15 October 2021, the Belgian National Labour Council (the Council) published an opinion on the topic of compulsory vaccination for nursing staff, upon request from the Minister of Social Affairs and the Minister of Labour.

The Council was invited to comment on the appropriateness of such an obligation, what the sanctions for non-compliance should be as well as on the legal or regulatory legal or regulatory possibilities in this respect.

The Council is composed of 26 members reflecting both trade unions and employer organisations in equal measure. The opinions of the two groups within the Council differed on this topic. The employers’ organisations expressed themselves in favour of compulsory vaccination for nursing staff, while the trade unions were less convinced by the efficacy of the policy. There were differences also among trade unions themselves. The liberal and Christian trade unions (CGLSG and CSC), while not entirely against the idea, stated that priority should be given to raising awareness and thus to achieving voluntary vaccinations. More firmly opposed to the idea was the Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (FGTB) which considered compulsory vaccinations in the nursing sector to be disproportionate to the legitimate objective of protecting vulnerable people. The FGTB explains that there should be no need to make vaccinations compulsory for everyone in the sector as not everyone is in direct contact with vulnerable persons.

For more detail on the reasoning of the Council, please find the full Opinion in French here.

For more information on the Belgian National Labour Council, please access their website here.