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Staff vaccine mandates halted at Woolworths, Dis-Chem

Companies are beginning to relax their COVID-19 requirements for staff after months of enforcing vaccination mandates in the workplace.

In numerous firms countrywide, employees who did not want to be vaccinated, had to produce negative antigen tests.

Among those slackening regulations are Woolworths and Dis-Chem, both of whom have changed their policies, reports News24.

Since 9 May, Woolworths “no longer limits the entrance to our workplaces to either vaccinated persons or those presenting a negative antigen test", and since 1 June, it had increased to three, the number of times employees needed to come into the office in a week.

However, social distancing and masks indoors are still strict requirements.

And since 1 June, Dis-Chem has also done away with its mandatory vaccination policy, although mask-wearing is still compulsory within the workplace.

Dis-Chem's human resources director Caryn Eliasov-Barker said while vaccination was no longer mandatory, the company still encouraged all staff to get vaccinated.

While the two companies are changing their vaccine decisions, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) recently upheld an employer’s decision to retrench a worker for refusing to vaccinate, and to not offer any severance pay.

Cecilia Bessick and three other people were retrenched from Baroque Medical. Bessick had worked as a clerk at the company for 22 years and didn’t want to vaccinate for religious, personal and medical reasons.

In making the decision, CCMA commissioner Piet van Staden, said: “I am of the view that the employer was justified in introducing a policy of mandatory vaccination. The applicant was aware of this requirement, but elected not to comply therewith.

“That choice was hers, and her employer respected her election. The nub, however, lay in the consequences of exercising her choice, which resulted in her not being able to continue for operational reasons to carry out her duties for the reasons as detailed by the employer. On the facts, I am unable to conclude that the employer had committed any wrongdoing in its decision to terminate the applicant's services by reason of operational requirements. Her dismissal was substantively fair.” Van Staden said her decision not to vaccinate was not reasonable.

“The applicant had the election to vaccinate and retain her employment. On the facts, her refusal to vaccinate has no merit, and her refusal was unreasonable. It would be grossly unfair to expect the employer to pay any severance pay in the circumstances.”


News24 article – Woolworths, Dis-Chem will no longer demand that employees be vaccinated (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


CCMA: Zero-severance retrenchment for jab refusal is fair


Mandatory vaccinations: ‘South Africa’s looming vaccine revolt’


CCMA again rules in favour of employers over mandatory vaccinations



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