Business body BUSA seeks court order on mandatory Covid-19 vaccination

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Business Unity South Africa seeks court order on Covid-19 mandates by companies (Getty Images)
Business Unity South Africa seeks court order on Covid-19 mandates by companies (Getty Images)
  • BUSA says a declaratory order on Covid-19 vaccination mandates will create legal certainty on the matter.
  • The group says the provisions of the Occupational Health Safety Act already empower employers to enforce vaccine mandates.
  • A number of companies have already indicated that they would require employees to be vaccinated.

Court action initiated by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to seek an order on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination in the workplace is looming.

The business lobby says it is consulting lawyers over the legal process of the action, which is supported by its members as part of the measures aimed at ensuring safety and limiting the impact of the virus on business operations.

A declaratory order on the matter is aimed at creating "legal certainty" on the application of mandatory vaccination within the law, it said.

"Businesses are not trying to infringe the rights of others. They have a responsibility to ensure safe and healthy workplaces and ensuring all employees are vaccinated is a way to do this," it said.

"The rights of all employees must be ensured."

Under the Occupational Health Safety Act, 85 of 1993, employers must ensure a safe working environment that does not risk the health of employees or others that may be directly affected by their activities. For this reason, BUSA argues the act already allows employers to apply mandatory vaccination requirements.

Some of the large companies that have hinted at Covid-19 mandates include Discovery and Naspers. Curro, the private schools chain, has already instructed all its staffers to get the jab before year-end, or face possible retrenchment.

According to the Department of Health, just under 15 million of the country's nearly 60 million people have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The country recorded 146 new confirmed Covid-19 infections on Monday and nine deaths, bringing the confirmed death toll to 88 934.

"Getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible is the single most important issue in overcoming this virus. All the science demonstrates that vaccination is the critical tool," said Busa.

South Africa has set a target of having 40 million of the SA's 60 million people fully vaccinated by 31 December 2021, but the numbers are likely to be affected by a rise in the vaccine hesitancy, as research released by Ask Africa and GCIS in September showed that only 62% of South Africans were willing to take the jab. 

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