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POLL| Should companies make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory?

Discovery CEO Adrian Gore said the policy will not infringe on the employee's legal, health and religious reasons for refusing to get vaccinated.

Discovery wants to implement a policy that will make employee vaccination mandatory.
Discovery wants to implement a policy that will make employee vaccination mandatory.
Image: 123rf/pitinan

Mandatory vaccination in the spotlight after Discovery Group announced on Thursday that it is considering implementing a policy that will make it mandatory for employees to get jabbed against Covid-19.

CEO Adrian Gore said the policy will take effect from January 1 2022. He cited the need to ensure a safe workplace as a reason for this implementation. 

Gore said the policy will not violate the rights of employees who may want to refuse the jab. 

“This process will consider the employee’s health, religious and other legal rights and seek to balance these with the rights of all employees across the group. We will do our very best to accommodate each employee as we recognise that each case is different.

This announcement has been rejected by trade union Cosatu.

The union told SowetanLIVE on Thursday that mandatory vaccinations will be weaponised against employees who do not want to get vaccinated. 

Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the union will discuss the matter further with companies owners. 

“We reject the idea because it is a weapon that will be used to discriminate against those who hold different beliefs from mainstream. We prefer that dialogue is used and not coercion to convince workers and South Africans to vaccinate.

“We plan to engage them and hopefully it will not result in any head-on confrontation. But all options are on the table if dialogue doesn’t work,” said Pamla. 

The department of employment and labour released a consolidated direction on occupational health and safety measures in June, which says that employers should not coerce employees into vaccination. 

“The key principle of these guidelines is that employers and employees should treat each other with mutual respect. A premium is placed on public health imperatives, the constitutional rights of employees and the efficient operation of the employer’s businesses,” said minister Thulas Nxesi.

Employers are required to ensure that workplaces are safe and adhere to the Occupational Health Safety Act. 

“If the employer decides to make it mandatory once the risk assessment has been conducted, it must then identify which employees will be required to be vaccinated. In determining whether an employee can be required to be vaccinated, the employer must identify those employees whose work poses a risk of transmission or a risk of severe Covid-19 disease or death due to their age or comorbidities,” said Nxesi. 

In July, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) head Buang Jones called on South Africans who have been threatened with dismissal or eviction for refusing to get vaccinated, to come forward. 

He said the commission had been inundated with complaints regarding mandatory vaccinations. He said the commission will explore the legalities around the issue.