16 September 2021
Please see note below regarding an update on the latest and emerging thinking on this topic which was provided by Mr Jonathan Goldberg, BUSA Business Representative on NEDLAC.
Following a discussion at Nedlac this morning we thought we would share some thoughts with you in respect of compulsory vaccinations. It is evident from the discussions, and we pushed very hard in this regard, that Government must take a firm view sooner rather than later about compulsory vaccinations. We know there is resistance at company sites regarding compulsory vaccinations and Government should take the lead exactly like they did in the vaccination roll out. That lead includes, for instance compulsory vaccinations and roll out for instance 60 and above and those with comorbidities. Both Dr Grey and Professor Cheadle did a presentation on the compulsory vaccination.
Just to summarise the position presented:
- 1. All employers have a duty in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take reasonable measure to protect employees and people entering any workplace.
- 2. Not to do so is a criminal offence.
- 3. Employees must obey the rules and regulations provided they are reasonable.
- 4. The Occupational Health and Safety Act therefore provides the ideal opportunity for employers who cannot protect employees who are not vaccinated, to establish a compulsory vaccination policy.
- 5. This does not go against the Constitution as all your rights in respect of, for instance integrity are limited.
The above is at the employer level but effectively our argument is it is in the public’s interest that Government starts to make certain sectors of the economy or most sectors compulsory vaccination in terms of the Disaster Management Act. We truly believe that the Constitution imperative regarding general public health and wellbeing is the South African citizen.
Dr Grey then went into great lengths of explaining the effectiveness of the vaccines as the best reaction to the Covid pandemic. A debate regarding other measures like social distancing and masks occured but ultimately far exceeding any of these other measures is the vaccine. An example was used where you have a workplace of 70% of your staff vaccinated and 30% not, you then run a risk of a breakthrough infection with a vaccinated person. Those people / employees who then have comorbidities are then at high risk regarding serious illness or potential death.
With thanks to Jonathan Goldberg, BUSA Business Representative on NEDLAC.