Monday, January 24

Anglo will demand vaccines, as some other companies move quietly

Global commodity producer Anglo American will require all employees to be vaccinated starting next year, according to a report in The UK Telegraph. It says an “internal update on the proposals establishes that employees must be vaccinated ‘in order to perform their duties’ and those who refuse may be fired ‘as a last resort.’ Anglo American confirmed Moneyweb’s intention.

The newspaper says the documents it saw “indicate that when introduced, the vaccine requirement will apply to all employees, contractors and visitors to Anglo sites. It will also apply to all new members.

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“The timing and implementation of the policy will vary around the world depending on different national laws. Exemptions to the policy will only be considered for medical reasons. ”

If a vaccine mandate is introduced, The Telegraph says that “Anglo would have ‘a reasonable amount of time to vaccinate before consequences are imposed.'” The group has more than 95,000 employees and contractors around the world. The Telegraph suggests that “Anglo is believed to be considering introducing a mandate now due to the increased availability of vaccines around the world. In its report, the company also makes reference to certain governments that require vaccines for access to public services as justification for the measure “.

The document says that “the company said that mine workers may be at risk of contracting Covid due to the ‘inherent nature of some mining activities’ and that this also applies to office employees who’ normally work in confined environments. and they interact in common spaces. ‘ ”

The group has yet to disclose vaccination rates across its total operations. Subsidiary Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), with 25,677 employees and contractors at its operations in South Africa and Zimbabwe, revealed in October that 59% of its workforce had signed up to be vaccinated by the end of September. This equates to about 15,000 employees (and contractors). Amplats said that 50% (± 12,800) had received their first vaccination and 28% (± 7,200) had received their second vaccination.

Anglo told Moneyweb: “In summary, their position is as follows: ‘Anglo American intends to introduce a policy that requires Covid-19 vaccination for access to all of its sites and offices, with the continued aim of protecting our employees, their families, and communities as much as we can. Over the past 18 months, we have implemented strict health and testing measures in all of our operations and offices, and we have been strongly encouraging our employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible as vaccines became available during this year. This has included the installation of our own vaccination facilities, where permitted, for example in South Africa, to make it as easy as possible for our employees, given the breadth of our own healthcare infrastructure there.

“Demanding vaccination to gain access is the next step, since vaccination is the best defense available. To properly tailor our approach in each country, over the next few months we will be conducting a comprehensive engagement process with our employees and other stakeholders. Once this is complete, Anglo American will seek to implement the policy, taking into account the feedback we receive. We expect there will be differences in exactly how and when the policy will be implemented across the Group due to local contexts and legal requirements. ”

Anglo would be one of the largest employers in South Africa to implement a vaccination mandate. Two other big employers on the list, Shoprite (120,000) and Pick n Pay (80,000), have not said anything to date about vaccine mandates. Both have only been “encouraging” employees to get vaccinated.

Other corporations

Discovery took the lead among publicly traded companies and announced in September that it would require all employees to be vaccinated starting in January. He said this week that 95% of the staff had been vaccinated.

Read: Almost 95% of Discovery staff have received the Covid-19 vaccine

It was followed by the private education group Curro Holdings and the insurer Old Mutual. Sanlam has also ordered the vaccines, but CEO Paul Hanratty has officially stated that the insurer cannot force anyone to get vaccinated, but “if you want to work for us, they will vaccinate you.” Momentum Metropolitan has said that it will not enforce mandatory vaccinations, but that you may need to move between employees who do not want to be vaccinated.

Private hospital groups Life Healthcare and Mediclinic announced in October that they would introduce mandatory vaccination policies for staff and providers. Netcare has chosen not to make vaccinations mandatory, tell BusinessLive You would take a different approach than your competitors. He hopes to persuade opposing employees to be attacked.

An emerging trend is companies that are quietly implementing staff mandates as they prepare to return to the offices early next year.

Moneyweb is aware of at least two JSE Top 40 companies that require their staff to be vaccinated to return to the office.

The country’s major banks have also been silent on vaccine mandates.

Several institutions of higher education will require that students and staff be vaccinated before the curriculum begins next year.

Legal challenges

Inevitably, there will be legal challenges to vaccine mandates. Popular legal opinion suggests that employers will be able to implement mandates consistent with their responsibilities outlined in the Department of Labor’s OHS Directive issued in July. This forces employers to ensure safe work environments for their employees and customers.

In most cases globally, companies have been able to implement mandates without violating existing laws or rights. Certain German companies, for example, have required testing twice a week for everyone, but employees could be “waived” from this requirement if they voluntarily offer their certificate of vaccination or recovery. This is to ensure compliance with the country’s strict privacy laws.

The pace at which the government has moved on matters related to Covid-19 during the last 18 months suggests that the “task force … to make vaccination mandatory for specific activities and places” announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa Sunday may take some time to carry out your “extensive consultations.”

Recommendations derived from this will surely only be made to Cabinet in January.

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