Pharmacy retailer Dis-Chem Group is the latest JSE-listed corporate to implement a vaccine mandate for its employees. In a hard-hitting letter to staff, it says it has “made the difficult but necessary decision to make Covid-19 vaccinations a requirement across the group” by February 1, 2022.
It says all employees who are not fully vaccinated by this date “will be required to:
- Provide a negative antigen test, every Monday. The test must be taken before you enter any Dis-Chem facility.
- Wear an N95 mask at all times.
- Both of these will be at the employees [sic] cost.”
It adds that “if either of these are not complied with, disciplinary action will be taken”.
The letter is signed “Ivan and Lynette Saltzman, together with Dis-Chem senior management” and contextualises its position as such: “…we welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to consider the issue of mandatory vaccination and restricted access from his most recent address”. It notes that it operates in the healthcare sector and “a large proportion of our employees interact directly with the public”.
The group has confirmed that a letter was sent to all employees.
In a media statement, the group says its “top priority is to ensure the health and safety of its staff, customers and community. For this reason, it has advised that all staff must be vaccinated. For those who for specific reasons won’t vaccinate, and to maximise the general safety of the public, a weekly negative Covid-19 test will need to be produced before entering the workplace”.
“Covid-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and highly effective in reducing the risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes Covid-19), in preventing serious illness and death, and in limiting the spread of the virus.”
It adds it “has gone to great lengths to make vaccines easily available for all employees and this commitment will not change. It continues to urge those who have not yet been vaccinated to get their jab and has seen overwhelming support for this initiative from the public and employees. Dis-Chem also remains wholly committed to supporting government’s national vaccine rollout via its 85 vaccination sites across South Africa”.
The group would not disclose to Moneyweb the percentage of employees that are either fully or partially vaccinated at this stage.
Meanwhile, at the 26th annual National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) Summit on Tuesday, Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi announced that the council had recommended to government that vaccine mandates should be implemented at workplaces and that some venues only be accessible to vaccinated persons.
He said “The Nedlac social partners represented in the Nedlac Rapid Response Task Team believe that the promotion of vaccines remains the most significant intervention to prevent further spread of Covid-19 and lockdowns.
“To intensify the vaccination programme and in response to the President’s call, they have had extensive and urgent discussion over the last week and made proposals to the government through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) that:
- The Health and Safety Direction of the Department of Employment and Labour should be strengthened so that vaccination can become mandatory where a risk assessment at the workplace requires this.
- That access to certain venues, gatherings and events particularly in the hospitality sector should be restricted to vaccinated people only.
- Regulations on maximum capacity of gatherings/venues/events should be simplified, provision of ventilation added and enforcement strengthened so that social distancing can be adhered to.”
He added that Nedlac supports the work of Busa (Business Unity South Africa) to approach the Constitutional Court early next year for a legal declaration on the matter.
The following JSE-listed companies have announced the implementation of vaccine mandates already, or that they will be implementing such requirements next year:
- Anglo American
- MTN Group
- Standard Bank Group
- Old Mutual
- Life Healthcare
- Dis-Chem Group
- Curro Holdings
Moneyweb understands that Investec and MultiChoice Group have also required employees to be vaccinated by early next year.