A new set of ‘Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety Measure in Certain Workplaces’ was gazetted on 11 June 2021. The contents are by and large similar to that of the previous COVID-19 related Consolidated Directions (of 1 October 2020), but several provisions pertaining to vaccination have been added.

General vaccination obligations

In addition to the general obligations that were imposed on employers in terms of the previous Directions (w.e.f. 1 October 2020), employers also have to –

(a) Undertake a risk assessment regarding whether the employer intends to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, if so, to identify employees who work in situations where:

(i) The risk of transmission is high due to the nature of employees’ work; and
(ii) The risk for severe COVID-19 disease or death is high due to an employee’s age or comorbidities

(b) Develop or amend their existing COVID-19 plan to include the mandatory vaccination measures;

(c) Provide workers with information about Covid-19 vaccines. (Available from the NIOH – see www.nicd.ac.za?coivd-19-vaccine-faq/);

(d) Help employees to register for vaccination on the relevant portal (vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/#/);

(e) Give employees paid time off to be vaccinated;

(f) Place employees who suffer from side effects on paid sick leave (This has created a potential for abuse – see our article on ‘Vaccination and sick leave’ at  https://saueo.co.za/2021/07/20/vaccination-and-sick-leave/).

The Directions provided a deadline of 6 July 2021 (i.e., 21 days after the amended Directions came into force on 11 June 2021) for employers to undertake the risk assessment referred to in paragraph (a) above. It is not clear why there had to be a deadline and what the consequences would be if an employer failed to meet the deadline.

Employers with less than 10 employees

Employers with less than 10 employees do not have to comply with the provisions referred to in paragraphs (b) to (f) above. Their only explicit obligation as far as mandatory vaccination is concerned, is to undertake a risk assessment.

Mandatory vaccination

Annexure C of the Consolidated Directions provides certain guidelines that are specific to mandatory vaccination. This is a controversial matter with its own set of requirements.

By: Jan Truter