Abu Dhabi: COVID-19 vaccine hesitants in Saudi Arabia now risk summary dismissal for committing an act of gross misconduct, with the government barring unvaccinated employees from entering private and public offices, a lawyer said.
“Refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has now become a gross misconduct in Saudi Arabia that is so serious to justify dismissal without notice, or pay in lieu of notice, for a first offence,” Haya Al Razzouk, a lawyer and legal advisor, said.
Al Razzouk said this act destroys the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and employee, making the working relationship impossible to continue.
“So employers can dismiss employees who refuse to get the jab and they will not face a claim of unfair dismissal,” Al Razzouk said.
The lawyer said any government or private facility that is lenient in the entry of unvaccinated individuals risks penalties and fines in accordance with the Saudi laws.
Starting August 1, Saudi authorities started enforcing a decision barring unvaccinated people from entering public and private establishments and using public transport as part of the country’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The decision makes vaccination against the disease mandatory to enter any economic, commercial establishment or attending any cultural, entertainment or sporting event. The same rule applies to entering public or private education institutions.
The Interior Ministry said that as of August 1, vaccination, approved by the Health Ministry, is mandatory across the kingdom to get access to these sites and events.
The Commerce Ministry also said that as of August 1, access to shopping centres and markets will be restricted to people who have received two doses of the vaccines against COVID-19 or at least one dose, and those who have recovered from the disease according to the health status shown on the app “Tawakklana”.
Exempted from the mandatory condition are categories who are not obliged to get inoculated based on their health and age conditions.
The immunisation is a must also for entering cafes, restaurants and barber shops.
Last December, Saudi Arabia, a country of 34.8 million people, initiated mass vaccinations against COVID-19.
Nearly 27 million doses have since been administered in the country, according to the latest figures from the Health Ministry.
The kingdom has authorised for use the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines.