No employee should be dismissed over refusal to vaccinate - Cosatu
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Johannesburg - Cosatu has issued a stern warning to employers who are allegedly victimising workers who do not want to have the Covid-19 vaccine for religious or medical reasons.
This comes after reports of workers expressing fears of being victimised or losing their jobs should they refuse to get vaccinated.
The National Health Department has reassured that the vaccines are safe to use and not mandatory but there are still with reservations the vaccine.
Cosatu’s labour market co-ordinator, Lebogang Mulaisi, said that, according to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, employers were obligated to provide a healthy and safe place for workers. She said no employee should be dismissed over a refusal to vaccinate.
“Ideally what should happen is that workers should be consulted, they should be given guidance and counselling, and the benefits of taking the vaccine, and if the worker feels that they do not want (it), they cannot be prejudiced,” Mulaisi said.
The OHS directive compels employers to respect the constitutional rights of workers and workers have rights to religious beliefs and bodily integrity.
“In addition to that an employer also has the obligation to take into consideration medical reasons why the employees would not want to take the vaccine.
“The OHS directive urges employers to continue with communication with employees and educate them. If it comes to a situation where the employees still don’t want to take the vaccine, there is a clause in the OHS directive which stipulates that the employer must then reasonably accommodate the employee.
“This means looking for ways where the worker can work remotely or maybe looking for ways where the employer can place the worker where they are not in a congregate setting.” Mulaisi appealed to employers to work with staff to find a solution.
The SA Human Rights Commission also weighed in on the matter urging employees, who have been threatened by their bosses to contact the commission. “If your employer has decided to make vaccines mandatory and you feel prejudiced by the decision, please send us an email,” it said.
Senior Rhema Ministries pastor, Ray McCauley, said the church had to work with science to save lives.
He cautioned South Africans to be aware of fake news and false interpretations of the Bible.