One of South Africa’s largest banking groups, Standard Bank, has done away with its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for its employees.
This is after the bank has reportedly already dismissed 40 employees and placed others on “Special Leave” for refusing to get vaccinated in spite of the mandatory policy.
Standard Bank announced that it had withdrawn the mandatory vaccination policy on Friday, and explained the decision was due to its already 95% vaccination rate across employees and changes in national COVID regulations.
Standard Bank SA CEO Lungisa Fizule said that the vaccine policy was introduced in response to the Delta wave of COVID-19 infections that struck in 2021. The Delta strain of the virus was responsible for thousands of deaths in South Africa and for hundreds of thousands in countries such as India at the height of the pandemic.
Fuzile continued that the implementation of the policy was “the right move at the time” as it enabled the bank to meet its obligations and keep its employees safe.
Standard Bank intends on re-hiring workers fired for refusing to comply with its mandatory #COVID19 vaccination policy, which it's now scrapped. The bank withdrew its vaccination policy on Monday after banking union Sasbo was set to challenge it. #DStv403 #eNCA pic.twitter.com/rYvtNsN70n
— eNCA (@eNCA) July 15, 2022
Now, with the policy withdrawn, the bank is seeking to re-hire those that were dismissed for refusing to vaccinate.
“Unfortunately there are a number of unvaccinated employees that we parted company with, after they declined the alternative of testing which had been offered to them,” Fuzile said, quoted by Media24.
“Following the withdrawal of the policy, we are engaging with these colleagues to explore re-employment opportunities, as we feel strongly that this is the right thing to do”, they added.
Standard Bank, and another South African lender Old Mutual, had been in hot water with the country’s financial sector union SASBO due to the firing of employees who refused to vaccinate. Now with the scrapping of the policy and the re-hiring of fired employees Standard Bank may be able to avoid any legal action from the union.
There is currently no information on if the bank will pay remunerations to those it had fired in the last year and a half, since the policy was implemented, and is now seeking to rehire.