Old Mutual yesterday confirmed it had reached an amicable agreement with former employees who were dismissed during the height of the Covid-19 crisis, in the wake of the declaration of the Disaster Management Act.
“This settlement is, therefore, neither an admission of liability nor linked to the merits of the case and all these former colleagues are now welcome to apply for new roles at Old Mutual,” it said.
Old Mutual said yesterday the agreement only related to the cases referred to the Labour Court and not all dismissals were referred to the Labour Court. It failed to confirm how many people it had settled with.
In 2022 media reports emerged that 49 people had left Old Mutual’s employ due to incapacity after refusing to vaccinate against Covid-19.
Old Mutual introduced a mandatory vaccination policy in November 2021. It gave its staff up to January 2022 to produce vaccination certificates.
Old Mutual said had tried to accommodate employees who did not want to be vaccinated and provided an alternative option. Employees who were prepared to be tested regularly and could produce proof of negative Covid-19 tests were exempted from being vaccinated. Old Mutual also offered to defray the test costs these employees incurred.
Old Mutual abolished its mandatory vaccination policy on June 22 and halted the incapacity hearings process.
Financial union Sasbo at that time said that Old Mutual must reinstate its members who were fired for refusing Covid-19 vaccination.
Sasbo was not able to comment yesterday.
Richard Spoor said at the time also said he was acting for 25 Old Mutual employees dismissed for failing to comply with Old Mutual’s vaccine and testing mandates.
Despite attempts to contact Spoor, Business Report was unable to get comment.
“Old Mutual, and many other financial service providers, have since amended their mandates but OM refuse to reinstate those they wrongfully dismissed,” Spoor said.
Legal action was then filed against Old Mutual in Labour Court.
Old Mutual spokesperson, Celiwe Ross, a director of Group Strategy, Sustainability, People and Public Affairs, said yesterday that this meant that all cases currently before the Labour Court had been resolved and have been withdrawn from the court roll.
“This resolution is an acknowledgement, by all involved, that it is time to move forward from the very dark time the pandemic created across the globe,” she said.
Ross said Old Mutual had always maintained that its decisions were made in good faith and based on the science and laws, which prevailed during the pandemic.
“Our aim was to protect the overall wellbeing of the communities we serve, including our employees, customers and various other stakeholders,” Ross said.
Old Mutual the Insurance & Banking Staff Association and Sasbo, for their role in resolving “this matter in a manner that was respectful and mindful of a range of diverse views. We consider this outcome to be fair and just for all concerned, and we are relieved that this painful, uncharted period is over”.