Can you make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory? Yes…BUT…

Employers may make vaccinations mandatory, but it’s not as simple as an instruction. Specific guidelines have been issued permitting a mandatory vaccination programme in its workplace following a risk assessment, dictated by your operational requirements, within the guidelines issue by the Department of Employment and Labour. Strike a balance between public health imperatives, the constitutional rights of employees and the efficient operation of the employers business.

Vaccinations may not be unilaterally compulsory.

The Department has cautioned employers to ensure that the rights of employees to bodily integrity and religious freedoms and beliefs are taken into account.

If the employer intends making vaccinations mandatory it will need to decide:

- The category of employees who must be vaccinated.  It is not a blanket decision over all employees.

- The measures to implement the vaccination of those employees.

- Provide employees with paid time off to get vaccinations, with proof of the vaccination.

If mandatory vaccinations are to be implemented, the employer must:

- consult with the relevant trade union any health and safety committee

- make the consulted mandatory vaccination policy available for inspection by trade unions, the health and safety committee as well as an inspector.

When considering which employees must be vaccinated, take into account:

- age

- comorbidities.

- risk of transmission due to the employees’ job role.

- Any collective agreement already in place.

An employer must raise awareness among employees with regards to, among others, the nature, benefits and risks associated with the vaccines.

If a mandatory vaccination policy is to be implemented and rolled out, the following must be in the policy:

- Notice to relevant employees that they must be vaccinated when the vaccination is available.

- A right to refuse vaccination on constitutional or medical grounds.

- The opportunity for an employee to consult with a trade union representative, worker representative of health and safety committee member.

- Provide transport to vaccination sites, where possible.

- Allow the employee sick leave or paid time off if they suffer side effects, or alternatively made claim on the employees’ behalf to the Workmen’s Compensation.

If employees refuse to be vaccinated on medical or constitutional grounds:

- Counsel an employee and allow them to confer with a trade union representative, a worker representative or a member of the health and safety committee.

- If the objection is on medical grounds, refer the employee for further medical evaluation, with the consent of the employee

- If necessary, take steps to reasonably accommodate the employee by making amendments to their role or work environment in one or more of the following ways: allow them to work from home where possible, require that they self-isolate in the workplace; or require the employee to wear an N95 mask while in the workplace.

Can employees be forced to be vaccinated? No. Employees have a right to choose not to be vaccinated and employers may not deprive them of this choice. Where an employee refuses to be vaccinated it is the employer’s responsibility to find alternatives for employees who choose not to be vaccinated.

Can you dismiss and employee for refusing to be vaccinated? No, although in extreme circumstances your operational requirements may apply.

Do you have to have a mandatory vaccination Policy? No, unless you intend making vaccinations mandatory, then you do.

Will the State make vaccinations compulsory? No.

Mark - 14:03 @ common, Industrial Relations, Human Resources, B-BBEE | Add a comment