A majority of Members of Finland's Parliament are in favour of allowing employers to request that employees show Covid passes at the workplace, according to the results of an Yle survey of legislators.
Under current regulations, a bar or restaurant can ask a customer for their Covid pass but cannot ask one from the waiter, for example, who is serving them.
Public health authority THL had hoped that widespread use of the Covid pass would encourage more people to get vaccinated, and the government has indicated that the matter will be discussed with labour market organisations. However, no concrete decisions are expected to be made this year.
A total of 122 MPs replied to Yle's survey, with 70 saying they were in favour of the move and 33 against. Some 19 MPs were unwilling to reveal their position.
The results showed that the issue deeply divides parties, especially on the opposition benches.
The main opposition parties, the National Coalition Party (NCP) and the Finns Party, are at polar opposite ends on the issue, with NCP MPs saying that the right of employers to ask for a Covid pass would be a good way to keep businesses operating and employees healthy.
Finns Party MPs, however, strongly oppose the possible introduction of the measure, with only one Finns Party respondent indicating that they were in favour. Other members of the party said they were concerned that such a law would divide workers into two camps: vaccinated and unvaccinated.
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Strongest support among NCP MPs
Overall, the strongest support for extending the use of the Covid pass to workplaces came from the NCP, with members of the party questioning why the government procrastinated in rolling out the pass during the spring of 2021.
MP Ben Zyskowicz (NCP) pointed out that employers have a responsibility to ensure the health of workers.
"How can the employer take care of this matter if they do not have the right to be informed about the workers' vaccination status, nor has the right to ask for a Covid passport," Zyskowicz said.
Support for the use of the pass in workplaces was also widespread among the governing coalition partner the Centre Party, with MP Hannu Hoskonen (Cen) saying Finland could learn from the example of Italy.
"Nobody wants Finland to shut down again. People need services. I don’t understand why we have to take the risk of losing a life or a job," Hoskonen said.
Among the Social Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, the majority were in favour of the proposal but there were some skeptics in the ranks too, citing concerns about the increasing power of employers.
MP Niina Malm (SDP) said she would first want to find out if introducing the Covid pass to workplaces would then lead to the employer having wider access to the health information of employees.
"The preparation must take into account the concerns of the employee. This must not become an opportunity for the employer to ask almost anything related to health," Malm said.
Labour market organisations are also divided on the issue of Covid passes in workplaces.
Finland's largest blue-collar union SAK has equated the requirement for a Covid passport with compulsory vaccinations, and has asked for further clarification, while white-collar union Akava and the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), which represents employers, would support Covid passes in the workplace.
Finns Party fiercely oppose
According to members of the Finns Party that responded to Yle's survey, Covid vaccinations are voluntary and therefore passes should be too.
Finns Party MP Juho Eerola said he was worried about the signals being sent if an employer can start requiring a Covid passport from employees at the workplace.
"I am not in favour of totalitarianism, or of any signs of it. In addition, many jobs would be left without a worker," he said.
The opposition Christian Democrats were also concerned about the effects of extending the Covid passport to workplaces, with party chair Sari Essayah expressing doubts whether such a move would be constitutional.
"Restricting the right to work with a Covid passport is sure to run into constitutional problems," Essayah said.