CCMA reinforces vaccine stance in a second ruling against anti-vax employee

commissioner Petrus Venter ruled the Act compelled employers to provide safe workplaces and the requirement to vaccinate was in the interests employees.

In a second ruling dealing with Covid in the workplace, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has ruled again that suspending an employee for refusing to be vaccinated is fair and in line with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Commissioner Petrus Venter ruled the Act compelled employers to provide safe workplaces and the requirement to vaccinate was in the interests of the health and safety of all employees. Gideon Kok, a security officer at Ndaka Security Services, was suspended after he refused to be vaccinated on religious grounds.

He was given the option of providing a weekly Covid test, but only did this a few times. He then refused because he had to pay for the testing himself. He was suspended last November. Kok claimed this was an unfair labour practice and the requirement that he be vaccinated contravened his rights to freedom and security.

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In his ruling, Venter said Kok had been instructed to only return to work after he had been vaccinated, or when he submitted his weekly test result. Evidence during the hearing was that Ndaka, in terms of directives by the minister of employment and labour, had undertaken Covid risk assessments during which Kok had been identified as an employee who needed to be vaccinated because he shared an office with 10 other employees and worked closely with others.

Kok had previously contracted Covid and contact tracing revealed it was probable several colleagues had been infected by him. The entire office had to be closed and employees had to self isolate. Kok, in his evidence, said his
suspension was unfair because there was no legislation that compelled anyone to be vaccinated.

The vaccination, he said, was “still in the experimental stage” and would not prevent the spread of the virus, nor was it a cure.

“The past few months have seen high-level debates … on whether or not vaccinations should be mandatory in the workplace. At the centre of the debate is the conflicting constitutional rights, coupled with moral and ethical opinions,” said Venter.

“It appears that important institutions, such as the South African Human Rights Commission, did an about-turn when they recently announced that compulsory vaccinations might be lawful under certain circumstances. It appears that Nedlac holds the same view.”


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