Alison Lee

Alison Lee

TEMPLATE OF THE WEEK – 23 July 2021 – Vaccination policy

Employers around the world are struggling with the question of whether they should mandate that their employees be vaccinated against Covid-19.

During June 2021, the Department of Employment and Labour issued an updated occupational health and safety directive which, among other things, expressly permits an employer to implement a mandatory workplace vaccination policy, subject to specific guidelines.

Although the directive clarifies the matter on mandatory Covid-19 vaccination in the workplace, it also cautions employers to consider the rights of employees to bodily integrity and religious freedoms and beliefs when implementing a mandatory workplace vaccination policy.

But, just like employers have a duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment, employees also have an implied duty to act in the best interests of the employer and colleagues and to take care of their health and safety.

Developing a policy on Covid-19 vaccination allows employers to outline the company’s stance on vaccination – in the end, a Covid-19 vaccination policy will form part of the company’s plan to secure a safe working environment for all employees.

Below are some articles on vaccination policies in the workplace. We’ve also drafted a vaccination policy, which is attached, which you can use as a basis for your company’s vaccination policy.


Employer, you missed the vaccine risk assessment deadline. Now what?

The updated Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in certain Workplaces gave employers until 2 July 2021 to undertake or update their risk assessments to determine whether they intend to make vaccinations mandatory and for whom. But what can happen to employers who have missed the deadline?

Aside from the monitoring and enforcement mechanisms outlined in the Directive, which include the extensive powers of labour inspectors, there are various other potential risks and consequences which non-compliant employers should appreciate.

Amended Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health And Safety Measures Sheds Some Light On Employee Vaccinations in South Africa

The Minister of Employment and Labour has issued an amended COVID-19 Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces (Amended OHS Direction), which was gazetted on 11 June 2021 and is now in force. The Amended OHS Direction replaces the Direction that was published on 1 October 2020.

While most of the required health and safety protocols in workplaces remain unchanged, the Amended OHS Direction now deals with the much anticipated and somewhat controversial issue of workplace vaccinations.

Vaccination Policies

The Department of Employment and Labour recently released an Amended Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety measures in certain workplaces (“Directions”) published in Government Gazette No. 44700 on 11 June 2021.

The Directions are applicable to all employers that are permitted to continue or commence business operations under the Regulations made under section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (“the Regulations”), and as such essentially apply to all employers operating in South Africa. Since the Directions contain obligations on employers in relation to the mandatory vaccination of employees, it is critical that employers be aware of these requirements and start taking steps to ensure compliance.



Can government mandate the COVID-19 vaccine against your will? A discussion on international human rights law

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, asserted that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ‘as mandatory as you can possibly make it’ while South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, on the other hand dismissed rumours that the COVID-19 vaccination program will be compulsory for all citizens and made clear that ‘nobody will be given this vaccine against their will’ (‘Scott Morrison says a coronavirus vaccine would be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it”’ (, accessed 2-6-2021); Marchelle Abrahams ‘Ramaphosa details SA vaccine rollout plan: “Nobody will be given vaccine against their will”’ (, accessed 2-6-2021)).

There has been a great deal of talk about subjecting people who are not vaccinated to restrictions involving their access to public places, flights, hotels, and continued employment, thereby indirectly making vaccination compulsory. Disciplinary procedures have even been launched against professionals who had expressed publicly their opposition to compulsory vaccination (Luisa Regimenti ‘No obligation to be vaccinated and a ban on discrimination against people who do not wish to be vaccinated’ (, accessed 20-4-2021)).


An Employer’s Guide to Mandatory
Workplace Vaccination Policies

On 11 June 2021, the Department of Employment and Labour (Department) issued an updated Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety (Directive) which, among other things, expressly permits an employer to implement a mandatory workplace vaccination policy, subject to specific guidelines. The Directive has put an end to the debate as to whether a mandatory vaccination policy is legally permissible. However, the permissibility of a mandatory vaccination policy remains subject to an assessment of the risks present in each individual workplace and the guidelines issued by the Department. In terms of Direction 3(1) (ii) of the Directive, within 21 (calender days) of the Directive coming into effect, an employer must, in line with section 8
and 9 of OHSA, taking into account their operational requirements, determine whether it intends to make vaccinations mandatory, and if so, determine the category of employees to be vaccinated taking into account the vulnerability of a particular category of employees owing to age or co-morbidities or the risks posed as a result of the role of the employee.


Template – vaccination policy

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