On 27 April 2022, the German Constitutional Court rejected challenges to the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers (case reference: 1 BvR 2649/21).
The case concerned the obligation for professionals working in the healthcare system to provide a vaccine or recovery certificate to attend work. The challenged rule applied not only to medical or nurse employees, but also to the administrative, cleaning or kitchen staff, if they are employed by a healthcare facility. From 15 March 2022, the absence of a vaccine or recovery certificate prevents employees from entering the employers's premises and to exercise their professional activity.
The claimants had alleged an infringement to the bodily integrity and to the right to exercise a profession. However, the court rejected the claim, holding that the interference with the right of bodily integrity is justified because the legislators pursued a legitimate scope to protect vulnerable groups from COVID-19 infection.
About the encroachment of the right to exercise a profession, the court distinguished between medical and nursing staff from other kind of employees: the former are obliged to provide a proof of vaccination as a prerequisite, in order to exercise their professional activity. The latter are required to provide the vaccination or recovered certificate because they come into contact with medical and nursing staff and indirectly with vulnerable groups.
The court also mentioned the sentence of the challenged provision authorising the ban to enter the employers' premises or from working there, if the healthcare staff does not comply with the vaccine mandate. This ban gives rise to a separate interference with occupational freedom. However, the court again relied on the argument that this interference is justified to protect vulnerable groups.