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HomeMedico-LegalSA business expects rise in court action on vaccine mandates in 2022

SA business expects rise in court action on vaccine mandates in 2022

An escalation in legal action regarding mandatory vaccines is expected by South African business this year, which anticipates a rise in resistance from staff opposed to mandatory jabs, and reaction from those viewing this opposition as a threat to their health and well-being.

A number of leading corporate companies have already instituted compulsory vaccines, like Discovery, Old Mutual, and Sanlam, but Business For SA (B4SA) chair Martin Kingston expects there will “undoubtedly” be court action by those fired for not being vaccinated and who do not have legitimate exemptions.

“If people do start to lose their jobs, there will definitely be legal action,” he said. “Although it is unhelpful in one respect, in another respect it may be very useful in that it will clarify the legal status.”

B4SA and Business Unity SA (Busa) are still waiting for a high court declaratory order to give legal certainty on companiesʼ rights to require vaccinations, reports TimesLIVE. It is expected sometime in the first quarter of this year.

B4SA says a way must be found to respect people’s rights and yet have vaccine mandates to avoid devastating lockdowns in a response to pandemic waves.

Kingston said those companies with vaccine mandates, like Discovery, “are very focused on persuading everybody on the merits of the case, the benefits of vaccination and the risks attached to both the individual and institution and fellow workers of not being vaccinated”.

Busa CEO Cas Coovadia hopes there will be minimal job losses, saying that often the effect of companies such as Discovery announcing mandatory vaccine policies is a “rush to get vaccinated”.

The response to the company’s vaccination policy had been “overwhelmingly positive”, said Ronald Whelan, head of Discoveryʼs COVID-19 task team and chief commercial officer at Discovery Health. About 10,000 Discovery employees in SA — or 96% — have been vaccinated, with the remaining 3%-4% either “scheduled to be vaccinated” or having “lodged formal objections”.

“Over the next few weeks we will review all formal objections to vaccination,” says Whelan. “This process will carefully consider every objection on an individual basis with input from a range of independent medical and constitutional law experts to ensure that the process is fair and consistent.”

Discovery would also try to accommodate, where possible, all employees whose objections are “reasonable and justifiable”.

Celiwe Ross, human capital director at Old Mutual, said the companyʼs mandatory vaccination policy came into effect on January 1 and there were “now just under three weeks remaining for employees to prepare for our vaccination deadline of 1 February”.

It was “premature”, she said, to provide figures on what proportion of the company’s 21,242 employees in SA had been vaccinated.

“We concluded our vaccination exemption process late last year, where employees could apply for medical, religious and⁄or constitutional grounds for exemptions. These are being assessed on an individual basis. In instances where an employeeʼs application for exemption is denied, they will have to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine or face disciplinary action as per Old Mutualʼs employment policy.”

Sanlamʼs policy also became effective from J1 January 1 and it has implemented a hybrid working model. Some staff have yet to submit their vaccination certificates, but its records show that more than 40% of the employees have already been jabbed. The group employs about 14,000 people in SA.

 

TimesLIVE article – B4SA expects more court action this year on vaccine mandates (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

B4SA prepares court papers for legal certainty on compulsory vaccines

 

Mandatory vaccinations: 'Ethical and necessary’ in South Africa

 

Mandatory vaccinations imminent in South Africa

 

Business for SA wants ‘urgent’ restrictions on the unvaccinated

 

 

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