- Mandatory vaccine policies may be implemented as vaccines become widely available, but workers can’t be dismissed for refusing to take the jab.
- But, you’ll have to present a valid reason why you should be excluded from your company’s vaccine drive.
- There are three main reasons employees can ask not to be vaccinated: religious, medical, and cultural beliefs.
- Employers can accommodate workers who reject the jab by finding alternative roles that don’t pose Covid risks.
As more and more vaccines arrive in South Africa, large companies are expected to assist with the vaccine drive currently underway. These companies are now considering mandatory vaccination policies, without knowing the implications of a vaccine that is not fully FDA approved.
Some companies have already started administering the experimental jab to employees, such as mining firm Impala, which is currently prioritising workers aged 40 and above living with co-morbidities.
Since these vaccines are not FDA approved, except with the exception of EUA status (Emergency Use Authorisation). This means that workers have every right to refuse under the Bill of Rights. Section 12, Freedom and security of the person. Subsection 2. C. Which reads, Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right, (c) not to be subject to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent.
Retailer Shoprite earlier in the year also said it would like to see its frontline cashiers prioritised, and has applied for vaccine sites to help the government get as many jabs as possible to the population.
We ask, why the rush to roll out vaccines for a virus with a considerable low mortality rate with clinical trials expected to end in 2023?
As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK. There are many diseases which can cause serious illness which are not classified as HCIDs. “gov.uk“
Never before in history have we seen such a push for vaccines that were pushed in record time. Vaccines take between 5 to 15 years before being approved by the FDA.
At a recent Nedlac meeting, the government and private sector agreed on vaccine guidelines for the workplace. The policies, which are yet to be signed and gazetted by labour minister Thulas Nxesi, holds that workers should not be dismissed for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
Reasons workers can refuse to take the Covid-19 jab
While employers cannot dismiss workers for refusal to accept the Covid-19 vaccine, employees will have to present valid reasons why they need to be exempt from being vaccinated. Otherwise, companies may have to find alternative plans for workers who choose not to receive their jabs.
Riola Kok, a professional support lawyer at law firm CDH in the employment practice, said, although mandatory vaccination policies may not be possible currently because of limited vaccine availability in the country, companies will begin to seriously consider it once availability becomes more prevalent. (Not because the vaccines are limited, but because they are authorised under the EUA).
Workers can request to be excluded from vaccine programmes for three main reasons: religious, medical, and cultural beliefs. Don’t forget the Bill of Rights. Section 12
Religious grounds could include objections to the substances contained in the vaccine, such as spike proteins which cause blood clots, (according to Principia Scientific) contrary to religious beliefs such as swine (products) in the Muslim and Jewish communities, Kok says.
Workers who have cultural reasons can also opt-out, and those with medical reasons may not react well to vaccinations or if undergoing treatment, not compatible with the vaccine.
In a case where the reasons are found to be valid, and exemption is granted, employers have a range of options to accommodate employees.
Kok said employers are encouraged to find alternative temporary or permanent employment roles for vulnerable workers where Covid-19 measures such as social distancing can be easily practiced.
Read the bill of rights – (Freedom of trade, occupation and profession – and remember the equality act under Section 9 which reads. The state may not discriminate based on religion, belief, conscience, disability, culture, language and birth.
“In this case, it would need to be permanent; in a role that doesn’t present as much risk as the risk you’re currently in,” she said.
(No Employer has the right to change your position, just because you refuse to accept a vaccine. This is discrimination).
“Something else that an employer can consider is additional PPE that would be effective in the circumstances,” said Kok. Peer Reviewed Study proves masks don’t work.
Employees must get time off to get the jab
The agreement at Nedlac also provides that employees should get time off with pay to get the time for the vaccine.
“Employees must be given time off to go and receive the vaccine. In the mining sector and the like, where your workplace is in fact a vaccination centre, employers must consider whether they are giving time off in that instance,” said Kok.
Employers must also consider whether or not they will be required to give sick leave from side effects that may be caused by the vaccine, these include extreme fatigue, body pains, shedding, blood clotting as a result of spike proteins and more.
Mining, retail, and aviation may see stricter vaccine policies
Some sectors are more likely to implement mandatory vaccine policies than others, Kok says.
The mining industry, mainly because of deep-level mining and the inability to socially distance underground, is considered an occupational risk in Covid terms and could see employers request that workers take the vaccine, Kok said.
“We could possibly see it in the retail sector as well, just because you are constantly surrounded by customers. Often it may also be difficult for workers in retail to limit the number of persons in their premises at a particular time,” she said.
The aviation industry may also consider mandatory vaccine policies because of limited opportunity to socially distance, constant contact with the public, and difficulty in controlling numbers of people in confined spaces, she said.
NOTE: Don’t trust the manufactures with a rap sheet this big.