Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) says that it has no plans to approach the Constitutional Court to get a declaratory order on mandatory Covid-19 vaccines, but existing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulations are sufficient to boost the country’s vaccination numbers.
The business group pointed to the success of financial services group Discovery which has vaccinated 94% of its staff as of the end of November 2021.
“We have taken the view that the current OHS guidelines enable employers to put into place mechanisms to enable vaccination of all staff to meet their responsibility of ensuring a safe workplace for all their staff. This is being undertaken within the confines of the guidelines, and we are seeing incredibly positive responses from all staff in firms that have applied the OHS guidelines.
“Discovery has indicated that staff vaccinations have risen from barely one fifth to over 94% in the three months since they announced plans to make jabs compulsory from 1 January 2022. We have seen comparable results in other firms. This is exactly the type of behaviour we need to encourage, and we urge more employers to follow suit.”
Busa said that the science is clear that vaccinated people will not get seriously ill if they contract the virus. Vaccinating is also a necessary element to manage the virus and avoid a harder lockdown, it said.
Financial services group Discovery will implement a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy on 1 January 2022 for its South Africa-based employees.
When the mandate was announced on 3 September, only 22% of the organisation’s 11,000-strong employees were vaccinated. Twelve weeks later, 94% of staff had been vaccinated.
In a media briefing on 30 November, the group said staff vaccination is now projected to reach levels greater than 97% before the peak of the fourth wave in early 2022.
Discovery said this goal would be achievable if the remaining employees who indicated that they plan to get vaccinated follow through and if the company can effectively engage with the 330-odd employees who have formally objected.
Notably, Discovery’s decision to introduce a mandatory vaccination policy has also opened the door to other companies to introduce their own policies using similar methods.
In the last week, pharmacy group Dis-Chem, telecommunication giant MTN and Standard Bank have all confirmed that they will introduce similar policies at the start of 2022.
Other notable companies which have introduced a vaccination policy include:
- Curro Holdings
- Life Healthcare
- Old Mutual