No doctor’s note, paid sick leave for workers with COVID shot side effects
With South Africa having stepped up its vaccination strategy in the last few weeks, many recipients of the vaccine are recording negative side effects as a result of having been vaccinated. Nausea, headaches, weakness and general malaise are often felt after receiving the vaccine.
Reports of employees being dismissed over their COVID-19 status or from not reporting for work due to the onset of complications caused from being inoculated are surfacing in the news. Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi updated new regulations concerning employers’ obligations to employees.
TWO-DAY SICK NOTE RULE
Section 22 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BECA) requires employees to submit proof of illness if they have been absent from work for more than two consecutive days — or absent on more than two occasions during an eight-week period.
Under the new regulations gazetted on Friday, South African employers are required to give their workers paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Furthermore, employees who experience side effects following their inoculations are allowed to take paid sick leave by producing their vaccination certificate as proof of inoculation.
There is no need for workers to provide the standard medical certificate that is usually required to claim sick days.
UPDATED MEASURES AND PROTOCOLS FOR THE WORKPLACE
Business Insider reports that revised occupational health and safety measures regarding specific protocols around COVID-19 vaccinations have now come into place.
The amendments require employers to undertake risk assessments that mitigate exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. These assessments, need to include input from trade unions and safety committees and must be made available to health inspectors.
The regulations also highlight necessary responses to COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace, symptom screening and social distancing in the workplace. These amendments were signed off by minister Thulas Nxesi at the end of May.
CAN EMPLOYERS FORCE EMPLOYEES TO BE VACCINATED ?
Employers who enforce a mandatory vaccine policy for employees need to substantiate the reason behind this decision by identifying workers who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to age or comorbidities.
Workers must be made aware of the benefits and potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is the responsibility of the employer to raise employee awareness by distributing leaflets and notices in the workplace.
The right to bodily integrity is enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution. Employees who decline vaccination may cite their Constitutional right, as a refusal to be vaccinated. Employers are compelled to respect this decision.
Alicia Adendorff is a reporter for Healthy Organic Lifestyle.