Amended Directive issued by Minister of Employment and Labour
21 Jun 2021
The Minister of Employment in Labour, Thembelani Waltermade Nexesi, issued an amended directive on 11 June 2021 in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety measures in certain workplaces (the amended directive).
In terms of the amended directive, the Minister requires employers within 21 days of the amendment coming into force to undertake a risk assessment to determine whether they intend to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory and, if so, to identify those employees who must be vaccinated as a result of the risk of transmission through their work or their risk for severe Covid-19 disease or death due to their age or comorbidities. On the basis of the risk assessment conducted, employers are required to amend or develop a plan outlining:
- the protective measures in place for the phased return of its employees before opening; and
- the measures the employer intends to implement in respect of the vaccination of its employees in accordance with the amended directive and taking into account the Guidelines set out in annexure “C” thereto.
An employer must consider the constitutional rights of its employees to bodily integrity and the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion balanced against the efficient operations of the business.
The plan which identifies the employees to be vaccinated as a result of their higher risk of transmission through their work or their risk of severe Covid-19 disease or death due to their age or comorbidities should provide the following:
- the obligation to be vaccinated as and when the vaccine becomes available for those employees;
- an opportunity for the employee, at the employee’s request, to consult a health and
- safety representative or worker representative or trade union official, as the case may be.
(b) the employer is required, if practicable, to provide transport to and from the vaccination site allocated to the particular employee in terms of the Electronic Vaccine Data System Registration Portal; and
(c) in the event that the employee suffers side effects as a result of the Covid-19 vaccination, an employer must give the employee paid time off to recover, if such employee is still entitled to such sick leave entitlement.
If an employee refuses to be vaccinated on any constitutional or medical ground, the employer should:
- counsel the employee and, if requested, allow the employee to seek guidance from a health and safety representative, worker representative or trade union official, as the case may be;
- refer the employee for further medical evaluation should there be a medical contraindication for vaccination; and
- if necessary, take steps to reasonably accommodate the employee in a position that does not require the employee to be vaccinated. Reasonable accommodation in terms of the Guideline means any modification or adjustment to a job or to the working environment that will allow an employee who fails or refuses to be vaccinated to remain in employment and incorporates the relevant portions of the Code of Good Practice: Employment of People with Disabilities published in terms of the Employment Equities Act, Act 97 of 1999.
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