COVID-19: Mandatory Vaccination or Lose Your Job?

 One of the hottest topics in South Africa brings us to the discussion surrounding mandatory vaccinations for employees. Although there are several COVID-19 vaccines, another discussion rages on about the efficiency of the vaccines and if they truly can prevent people from contracting the COVID-19 virus, as some people still caught COVID-19 after being vaccinated. When it comes to the legal side of COVID-19 in the workplace, especially regarding occupational health and safety concerns, both employer and employee can state their cases with reasonable grounds. The question remains: Should COVID-19 vaccination be mandatory?

From an Employer’s Point of View

As an employer, you must adhere to South Africa’s Labour and Employment Laws to ensure that your business operates within its legal parameters, especially towards your employees. This means that an employer must create and sustain a safe work environment for their employees as well. Therefore, an employer would put their employees in danger if someone can spread the COVID-19 virus to other people in their workplace. In an effort to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace, it makes sense for an employer to enforce mandatory vaccination.

From an Employee’s Point of View

Labour and Employment Laws also apply to employees, with their employee contract stipulating the terms of their employment with their employer. Working from home has become a popular choice for several businesses in South Africa, allowing their employees to work in a safe environment where they cannot cause an outbreak at the office. Along with that, it can be argued that mandatory vaccination is against human rights, as there are several medical and constitutional reasons not to get vaccinated.

The Legal Situation in South Africa

The Employment and Labour Minister gazetted a directive on COVID-19 vaccination in certain workplaces where occupational health and safety measures must be enforced to ensure the safety of the employees and other people in the workplace. It stipulates that all employers must find and present reasonable resolutions to accommodate both parties in the case when employees refuse to get vaccinated on medical or constitutional grounds. It also stipulates that all employers must undertake a risk assessment to determine whether they intend to make vaccinations mandatory, based on their findings.

Whether you are an employer or employee, you can trust that Allardyce & Partners Attorneys is your answer to specialist Labour and Employment Law legal services and solutions. Please contact us on 011 234 2125 or email us at enquiries@allardyce.co.za for details on how we can help you today.