Business / Business News

Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
2 minute read
24 Nov 2021
2:09 pm

Old Mutual becomes latest firm to implement mandatory vaccinations

Narissa Subramoney

If an exemption is denied, an employee has five days to get vaccinated, failing which, they will be fired.

Picture: iStock

Insurance giant Old Mutual is implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for all its employees, at all its subsidiaries.

Employees have until 1 January 2022 to get at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. They have to be fully vaccinated by March 2022.

They must also declare and submit proof of their vaccination status via a CoronaFighter app declaration process within the deadline.

Employees who don’t want to get the vaccine must apply for “vaccination exemption”, which will be considered for “specific medical, religious or constitutional grounds”.

Vaccinate or get fired

If the employee’s exemption is granted, there are additional measures in place. This includes temporary or permanent alternative placement, weekly Covid-19 PCR testing, wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and an N95 mask.

“If we can’t reasonably accommodate you, our HR process will begin, which could result in termination,” read the internal staff memo.

If the exemption is denied, the employee has five days to get the jab, failing which, they will be fired.

Old Mutual said it would provide counselling on its mandatory vaccine policy.

Staff will be allowed to consult with a trade union representative, worker representative or health and safety representative.

Old Mutual will also provide access to a virtual consultation with a medical professional to answer questions about vaccines.

The memo warned of disciplinary procedures against people who “make frivolous or false claims about this policy or the Covid-19 vaccine and if they submit false information”.

Old Mutual CEO Iain Williamson said the decision to implement mandatory vaccines came after extensive consultations with employees, the executive committee and full support from the board of directors.

“Due to the availability of vaccinations, we will start with our South African businesses,” said Williamson.

Williamson said their decision was guided by “good science” and that side effects were generally mild and short-term. Serious side effects from the vaccine were also very rare.

The company is moving towards a hybrid working model and wants to ensure that staff and customers onsite are protected against the virus.

Old Mutual follows Discovery, Wits University, Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town, who were among the first institutions to explore mandatory vaccines.

Business Unity SA (Busa) also wants a declarative court order to help employers and employees understand exactly what the law allows regarding mandatory vaccinations.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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