South African health insurer Discovery is making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all staff from the beginning of next year, following the lead of several major global companies, from banks to airlines, in insisting on inoculation of employees.
Lenders CitiGroup and Deutsche Bank have both announced plans to make vaccines compulsory at least to some extent, while America’s Delta Air Lines said last month that it would impose a hefty $200 fine to employees who aren’t vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
Discovery, which is also SA’s largest medical-scheme administrator, is making the rule to ensure the safety of its employees, according to a statement released by the company, seen by Media24. The company has been involved in the rollout of the jabs in the country in several ways and expects to spend around R200-million ($13-million) on inoculating its employees in the 2022 fiscal year.
The firm has said that the mandatory vaccination policy recognises the rights of employees to object to the jab, and will include an internal process to consider “employee’s health, religious and other legal rights and seek to balance these with the rights of all employees across the group.”
Will COVID-19 Vaccines Be Mandatory?
Debates around mandatory vaccinations have only recently reached the Rainbow Nation, which has a fully inoculated group of just 15% of the total population.
The country’s government has been considering the introduction of “vaccine passports,” or rather, a method in which vaccinated people can provide proof of their jabs in order to open up more of the country, according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla.
COSATU, one of SA’s most important trade unions, is opposing the idea of mandatory vaccinations, with spokesperson Sizwe Pamla saying, “We don’t believe either government or companies have the right to impose vaccines on people. If you are a company and you have employees you don’t own them, you only have a contractual agreement with them.”