Richter Gedeon, a Hungarian pharmaceutical company, has made COVID-19 vaccinations necessary for its 12,328 employees in order to maintain business continuity following a legislative ruling permitting enterprises to do so, according to Chief Executive Gabor Orban on Monday.
The company, which had previously declared a third-quarter net profit of 38.2 billion forints ($123.13 million), had already indicated in its quarterly financial report that it was preparing the move.
Hungary has reported 17,834 new COVID-19 cases in the last three days, bringing the country’s total to more than 900,000 over the weekend, or roughly one-tenth of the population.
The number of deaths rose by 214 to 31,398 since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We have made the decision to make (vaccinations) mandatory,” Orban told a news conference.
“The only question is the time frame over which we will be able to carry this out the most efficiently,” he said, adding that the company was conducting a survey on the number of employees already inoculated against COVID-19.
The company said nearly 80% of its total workforce had been given a shot already. Those refusing the shot would be sent on unpaid leave.
“The vaccine is not mandatory, but then, neither is working at Richter,” Orban said. “It is extremely important that we retain our ability to keep the company running, to protect our workers’ health and their jobs.”
Without the measure, the company ran the risk of COVID-19 flaring up at certain business units, which Orban said was not acceptable.
Richter spokeswoman Zsuzsa Beke said the company’s workforce was already strained in some cases during the third wave of the pandemic.
“The Delta variant is a lot more virulent … so this is the only responsible behaviour as an employer,” she said.