Regional telecommunications giant, Digicel, is the latest private sector company to issue a vaccine mandate for its employees.
The mandate will require the company’s approximately 4,000 employees to be vaccinated by October 15, 2021 or submit to a negative PCR test every two weeks.
The policy applies to all employees working in Digicel offices across the Caribbean and Central America.
Ricardo Brooks has obtained a copy of the letter sent to Digicel employees and files this report.
The letter, which appears over the signature of Digicel CEO for the Caribbean and Central America, Oliver Coughlan, is dated September 29, 2021.
It says the Covid-19 pandemic continues to do enormous damage to people and economies across the world.
The Digicel CEO tells his employees that vaccines are now widely available, with a small number of exceptions in some of the company’s operating markets.
The letter notes that the science around vaccination demonstrates that it is the best way to safeguard health and prevent the worst effects of the virus.
The Digicel boss says with the essential nature of the services the company provides, it takes the health of employees and customers seriously.
He says the task is to protect lives and livelihoods.
That’s why effective October 15, all Digicel employees will be required to submit their vaccination card showing proof of vaccination to Digicel’s HR Department.
Employees of the company who are not vaccinated by the specified date will be required to present a negative PCR test which was taken 72 hours before submission.
This test will be required every two weeks and will be done at the employee’s expense.
The Digicel CEO says Antigen tests will not be accepted.
A PCR test costs on average costs approximately $7,000.
Digicel employees who are unable to produce a current PCR test result, and therefore cannot attend work, will be required to take the days on which they are absent as unpaid leave from work.
The days may also be taken from the employee’s vacation leave allowance, if they choose.
An employee who has used up their vacation leave, is not vaccinated and has not submitted the required PCR test will be required to take unpaid vacation leave.
Digicel employees will also not be allowed to work remotely in an attempt to avoid the company’s vaccine mandate.
The telecommunications giant will only permit exemptions to its vaccination policy for medical reasons, after the submission of a doctor’s report verifying that an employee is unable to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The letter notes that several governments have already mandated similar measures under more rigorous timelines.
The letter closes by urging employees to take advantage of the many avenues to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Public Relations and Communications Manager at Digicel Jamaica, Elon Parkinson, says the company conducted a series of consultations before issuing the mandate.
Mr. Parkinson says 100 per cent of Digicel’s management team is currently vaccinated, while 70-percent of the Jamaican staff complement have taken the jab.
Digicel is one of the largest telecommunications providers in the Caribbean, operating in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and 30 other countries in the region.