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Mandatory vaccine policies in the spotlight as Standard Bank withdraws its compulsory covid-19 vaccination policy

By Neelam Rahim

South Africa’s Covid-19 workplace vaccination policy is in the news after Standard Bank announced the withdrawal of its compulsory vaccination policy. The bank has dismissed 40 employees and has placed many others on special leave pending their incapacity hearings. At the same time, the CCMA recently ruled mandatory vaccinations unconstitutional.

Radio Islam discusses with Employment Lawyer with international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, Jacqui Reed.

Initially, the height of the pandemic in our country suggested that many co-operates were going the route of mandatory vaccination policy for their staff.

According to Jacqui, several corporates implemented mandatory vaccinations in the workplace between June and December last year. In the larger corporates, the process seemed to take a bit longer and was only implemented at the beginning of this year.

“From what’s happening in the news, a number of corporates are deciding to withdraw their mandatory vaccination policies. In my view, I think it’s quite important to understand the context within which these employers implemented mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace,” Jacqui added.

Jacqui tells Radio Islam that they are grounds to indicate that perhaps the reason for not getting vaccinated is no longer applicable. However, the need to appreciate that the justification and the reasoning behind implementing the policy were there at the time of the dismissal. And because that has subsequently changed doesn’t mean that wasn’t the case.

“Also, having to challenge circumstances depends on the dismissal’s nature. And where you have employees that refuse to comply with policies and were dismissed for misconduct. I certainly think that there may be grounds in very specific circumstances, and it would depend on the facts and merits of each case,” she says.

Jacqui further mentions that we’ll see the employers are starting to review and withdraw their policies. And that the trend will continue.

“I also think that in terms of the decisions emanating from the CCMA, is not correct for a number of reasons. All the interests have to be balanced and a look at what the justifications are needs to be considered. I certainly don’t think that the reasons were unconstitutional. But I think that the commissioner considered a number of factors that weren’t presented as evidence in the hearing, which I think is problematic for litigants.”

For more on this, listen to Radio Islam’s podcast below.

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