AMENDED CONSOLIDATED DIRECTION ON OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN CERTAIN WORKPLACES
Notice Title: Disaster Management Act, 2002: Measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in certain workplaces in the Republic of South Africa
Government Notice: GN 499 in GG 44700 on 11 June 2021
Commencing date: 11 June 2021
The Minister of Employment and Labour (“the Minister”) in terms of regulation 4(10) of the National Disaster Regulations made under section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, issued an Amended Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in certain workplaces (“Amended Consolidated Direction”).
The Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in certain workplaces that was published in GNR 1031 of 1 October 2020 (“previous Consolidated Direction”) has been withdrawn.
Although the bulk of the Amended Consolidated Direction remains similar to the previous Consolidated Direction, the following key amendments were made, particularly in respect of vaccinations:
- Employers must undertake an additional risk assessment within 21 days of the publication of the Amended Consolidated Direction (i.e. 2 July 2021), taking into account the operational requirements of the workplace, whether it intends to make vaccinations mandatory, and if so, to identify those employees who by virtue of the risk of transmission through their work or their risk for severe COVID-19 disease or death due to their age or comorbidities that must be vaccinated.
- Based on the outcome of the above risk assessment, the Employer is required to either develop or amend the existing plan outlining the measures that the Employer intends to implement in respect of vaccination of its employees, in accordance with the Amended Consolidated Direction, as well as taking into account the Vaccination Guideline that is set out in Annexure C to the Amended Consolidated Direction.
- Direction 3(4) however provides that in developing and implementing the Vaccination Plan, the Employer must take into account the rights of its employees to bodily integrity in section 12(2) and the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion in section 13 of the Constitution.
- The above is confirmed in the Vaccination Guidelines, which states that an employee may refuse to be vaccinated on medical or constitutional grounds, in which case the employer should counsel the employee, refer him/her for further medical evaluation; and if necessary, take steps to reasonably accommodate the employee (e.g. by allowing the employee to work from home or require the employee to wear an N95 mask etc.).
- The risk assessment, plan and policies, including subsequent amendments thereto, no longer needs to be submitted to the Department of Employment and Labour (“DoEL”), however, must be available for inspection by DoEL Inspectors.
- The Employer must provide administrative support to assist its employees to register on the Electronic Vaccine Data System Registration Portal for COVID-19 (https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/#/ ).
- The Employer is also required to give its employees paid time off to be vaccinated on the date and time that may be required provided that the employee provides proof of the vaccination that has occurred or is to occur during hours that the employee is ordinarily at work.
- If an employee’s sick leave entitlement has been exhausted, the Employer must make application for an illness benefit in terms of section 20 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 63 of 2001 and no longer in terms of clause 4 of the Directive issued on 25 March 2020 on the COVID-19 Temporary Employer Relief Scheme.
- Should an employee suffer side effects as the result of COVID-19 vaccination and is unable to attend work following the vaccination, the employee must be placed on paid sick leave. The Employer may accept a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued by an official vaccination site in lieu of a medical certificate.
For a copy of the Government Gazette Notice click here.
How to ensure compliance at my operations?
Employers must within 21 days compile a risk assessment to determine whether or not vaccinations will be mandatory within their operations.
Based on the outcome of the risk assessment:
- If mandatory, a Vaccination Plan must be developed and implemented in accordance with the Amended Consolidated Direction, also taking into account the Vaccination Guidelines.
- Should the Employer determine that vaccinations are not mandatory, the existing COVID-19 plan must be reviewed and updated, to incorporate administrative measures relating to vaccinations e.g. support, sick leave etc. as determined by the Amended Consolidated Direction.
If clients require any assistance with these risk assessments, updating of existing control framework or the development of Vaccination Plan, Shangoni’s team can assist in this regard.
For more information or assistance please contact Corrie Potgieter at email@example.com