President Cyril Ramaphosa has on Tuesday evening put the country on Alert Level 3, which affects the regulation on South Africans who are not essential workers being given the option to work remotely.
Further to the updated regulations, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi published new directives for COVID-19 in the workplace, highlighting the protocols that all businesses and employees must abide by.
The key principle of these guidelines contained in the new consolidated direction on occupational health and safety measures in certain workplaces includes the issue of the COVID-19 vaccinations and whether it can be a mandatory requirement.
[Media Statement] Employment and Labour Minister issues new direction with regard to vaccination in the workplace.
— Department of Employment and Labour (@deptoflabour) June 14, 2021
According to the regulations announced this week, employers have 21 days to consider whether employees getting vaccinated will be mandatory.
A company’s COVID-19 plan will need to make room for a phased approach to workers returning to the office once they have been vaccinated with standard COVID-19 measures in place.
An employer’s decision on whether staff being vaccinated is mandatory must be expressly outlined in the plan and made available to all staff.
Employers will need to consider those employees who have a right to refuse to get vaccinated on constitutional or medical grounds.
Staff who refuse the vaccination process will be allowed to consult a health, safety or labour official, but an employer cannot demand or unfairly dismiss an employee for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Instead, the directives advise employers to find a solution to accommodate the worker and ensure that they retain employment by either allowing remote working or working in isolation at the office.