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Can I Force My Employees To Get Vaccinated?

Compulsory Vaccinations In The Workplace

This is a truly relevant and loaded question at present.The answering of which will depend largely on the specific circumstances of each working environment and will involve the careful balancing of a number of fundamental rights.

Currently, there is no law in place making the COVID-19 vaccine obligatory, this has been confirmed by both the Minister of Health and Cyril Ramaphosa. Further, there is the Constitution which guarantees us the right to bodily integrity, as well as freedom of religious ideas and a number of other rights, which an employee may invoke as a reason for not wanting to take the vaccine. Not to mention, the National Health Act confirms that prior to any medical treatment there must be “informed consent”.

However, and even in light of the above, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to both provide and maintain a safe working environment for both employees and members of the public. This would include putting into practice as many preventative measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, the argument here is does the vaccine not fall into this bracket?

The short or general answer is that as the law stands now there is no way to force an employee to get vaccinated. A safer approach is to encourage and educate the employee as to the benefit of such a vaccination. With this being said each workforce and environment is different, and as such has different requirements some of which may justify a vaccination.

If you want to find out more about the vaccinations as they relate to your workplace and occupational health and safety, talk to us. We also offer a number of other labour law related services, including our new labour law retainer. A cost-effective and comprehensive labour solution for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes!

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We’re here to help you with any other employee-related matters, including dealing with Workmen’s Compensation issues.

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