28 October 2021 by Tebogo Monama
If Covid-19 vaccination rates don’t improve, government might make it mandatory for all public service employees.
This was according to a circular doing the rounds by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) director-general Yoliswa Makhasi, which was sent to all government director-generals and heads of departments, encouraging them to improve vaccine uptake in the public sector.
The circular, dated 27 October, said: “Discussions are ongoing with stakeholders and organised labour to consider the introduction of a mandatory vaccine mandate, along the parameters of OHS [occupational health and safety] direction in case the voluntary uptake does not increase to an acceptable level as set by the Department of Health.”
Makhasi also encouraged departments to develop awareness and share credible information about vaccinations with employees.
DPSA communications director Moses Mushi confirmed the authenticity of the circular.
“We are not saying that we will make it mandatory now or if the numbers don’t pick up. We are saying that we are in discussion with all relevant stakeholders including labour.”
Earlier this year, the Department of Employment and Labour issued the revised Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures on vaccinations in the workplace.
The directives said employers must do a Covid-19 risk assessment in the workplace, depending on operational needs. Employees and employers must also find a reasonable resolution when employees refused to be vaccinated on medical and constitutional grounds.
Constitutional grounds might include the rights to bodily integrity and freedom of religion. Medical grounds could be for those who might get an immediate allergic reaction to a previous dose or a known (diagnosed) allergy to a component of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The directives urged companies to find reasonable ways to accommodate those who refused to be vaccinated.
By Wednesday, 14 991 375 people had been vaccinated. This number did not include the number of 12 to 17-year-olds who were also eligible for vaccination.
If the government goes ahead with mandatory vaccinations, it would be joining the likes of Discovery Health and the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Last week, UCT announced that mandatory vaccination would kick in on 1 January next year.
Source: News24 at https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/covid-19-public-sector-employees-may-be-forced-to-take-the-vaccine-20211028?fbclid=IwAR1P_K3H8VSDu-Y3TGFybXY4dIrIPjxE9AH-apHiVEvSabq9J3Lk8UxZWOA