New OHS direction (workplace vaccination)
Employers should take note of the latest OHS direction as published on 11 June 2021.
In terms of this direction, the following aspects are new:
The inclusion of Vaccination Guidelines:
As South Africa rolls out its vaccinations against Covid-19, comprehensive vaccination guidelines have been included. These place a premium on the principles of collective bargaining.
A new kind of risk assessment plan:
Employers need to decide whether they will make vaccinations mandatory in the workplace, in accordance with section 8 and 9 of
the OHSA, if this is in line with the operational requirements of the workplace. Furthermore, those employees at risk of severe Covid-19 by risk of transmission of work, must be identified. This process needs to be completed within 21 days of the OHS direction coming into operation. This plan must be handled in the exact same way as the risk assessment eac
h employer needs to complete and the relevant health and safety committee in the workplace needs to be consulted. Employers must also consider the rights of employees to bodily integr
ity and freedom of religion, belief and opinion as enshrined in the Co
nstitution, when drawing up the plan. The plan must be kept on record in case of inspection.
Employees need to be informed:
ers need to make information
available on the the nature of vaccines used in the country, the benefits associated with these COVID-19 vaccines, the contra-indications for vaccination and the nature and risk of any serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions in accordance with guidelines published by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (see attached FAQ doc
Employees must be supported to seek vaccinations
Employers need to give administrative support to assist its employees to register on t
he Electronic Vaccine Data System Registration Portal for COVID-19; and give its employees paid time off to be vaccinated on the date and time that may be required provided that the employee provides proof of the vaccination that has occurred or is to occur during hours that the empl
oyee is ordinarily at work.
If an employee has vaccination side-effects, they must be placed on sick leave:
Should an employee suffer side effects as a result of a COVID-19 vaccination and is unable to attend work following vaccination, the employer must in accordance with section 22 of the BCEA place its employee on paid sick leave. For the purposes of this sub-direction, an employer may accept a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued by an official vaccination site in lieu of a medical certificate.