South Africa has just entered the third wave of COVID-19 infections and companies around the country are now looking to impose a compulsory vaccination policy in the workplace. However, a range of options first needs to be considered for those who are not willing to take the jab.
As reported by Business Insider, employers have been tasked with the responsibility of conducting risk assessments for the safe return of employees by the department of employment and labour. These plans seek to help with any chance of outbreaks as COVID-19 infections are rapidly increasing throughout the country.
Many organisations have already been implementing things like daily screening tests, rotating workers, limiting the number of employees allowed in their building, and providing workers with personal protective equipment (PPE).
However, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a responsibility like this could be used as a reason to implement a mandatory vaccination policy. The employer will first need to identify those workers who are at risk or who suffer from any underlying illnesses before considering a mandatory vaccination policy.
A mandatory vaccination policy can then only be included in a company’s risk assessment plan following discussions with labour unions and safety committees. If an employee should refuse to be vaccinated on constitutional or medical grounds, the employer can then refer the employee for further medical evaluation should there be concerns around a contraindication for vaccination.
If, after counsel and further medical evaluation and the employee still refuses, it’s the responsibility of the company to make a decision or to place the employee in a position where it does not require to be vaccinated.
Some companies have already started administering the jab to employees, such as mining firm Impala, which reported up to 2 000 active cases earlier this year, as per SABC.
Meanwhile, the country’s current vaccination programme aims to immunize 67% of the population by early 2022. The government has set a target of vaccinating an estimated 5.5 million South Africans aged 60 and above under phase two, EWN reported
Picture: Cape Town Etc gallery