Here’s how to improve vaccination legislations in the workplace

Devan Moonsamy 

This week the CCMA ruled that the dismissal of an employee for refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine as fair. A news source online stated that the employee could be dismissed for refusal to participate in a creation of a safe working environment. The investigation yielded that the company did follow the necessary steps in terms of getting employees updated on information and even had an exemption clause in the policy, but the employee did not meet the exemption needs. 

The latest in the way of vaccinations has brought to light the need to get staff on prepared for policies that will be implemented in the office that could go against their beliefs. Despite the virus still making waves and escalating case numbers, there is still many people refusing to be vaccinated. 

This incident also uncovers how companies going forward will be taking the route of making vaccinations mandatory. 

What does this mean for staff members? 

Will they be at the chopping block for refusing to be vaccinated?

How does implementing a mandatory policy impact on productivity? 

These are some of the thoughts swimming through the minds of employees uncertain on what plans around the vaccine might mean. 

That being said it is crucial for businesses to prepare adequately for how they will be handling the situation around making vaccinations mandatory and what to do with those not abiding by the policies. 

Here’s how to handle policy changes around vaccinations 

  • Policies are crucial. Having clear and precise policies that educate employees on what the company will be doing helps them prepare for the change. A policy can’t be implemented overnight. You must give your team a time frame in order for the policy to come into effect. This must be communicated to all staff in order to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunication. Infact ensure staff sign an acknowledgment of policy changes to prevent any shortcomings around action taken by the policy. The time frame is necessary to roll out polices. Be it a 3- or 4-months deadline, it gives staff to time to prepare for the change ahead. 
  • Before rushing to the decision of dismissal for staff not wanting to vaccinate, host discussions around the vaccine and eliminate any confusion or fear. People could be afraid of taking the step due to fear implemented by videos or information online. Having a portal where information can be accessed helps staff to lean towards understanding the process of vaccination better. Get specialist and officials knowledgeable on the vaccine to speak to staff around their concerns. 
  • When a staff member is resistant to the vaccine, have a sit down with them to identify why they might be feeling this way. Perhaps they just need a little more convincing or they are dealing with something right now. Whatever the case, look at how to better assist staff who are on the fence about the vaccine. 
  • Try to offer work from home options for those not yet ready to vaccinate. This has proven to work for the bulk of people hesitant about the vaccine. Once the policy becomes mandatory then a conversation can take place about the way forward. 
  • Ultimately, if all practises have been done above board with regards to implementing the policy and after the implementation there is a dismissal that must take place ensure it is done dignifiedly. Prevent any long battles and engage with staff timeously to get them on board with the way forward if they refuse to vaccinate. 

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

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