Various private sector and trade union groups have issued a joint statement outlining the possible scenarios in which an employee can be dismissed for failing to take the Covid-19 vaccine, if mandated by their employer.
The advisory statement is signed by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Jamaica Employers’ Federation, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions.
It says an employer must take all available care to consult, educate, facilitate and mediate with an employee about any Covid-19 policy before dismissal can even be considered.
Chevon Campbell has that story.
The joint statement says Covid–19 particularly, the Delta variant is highly contagious, and can cause serious disease and death.
It makes it clear that vaccines have been developed, are safe and are becoming increasingly available.
However, it says they do not provide absolute protection against contracting and spreading the virus, but significantly reduce the risk of doing so.
The statement says what is reasonable may range from mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitizing, to working remotely, to being vaccinated, or a combination of any of the above.
It says the duty of care owed by the employer is legally enforceable and they can be sued if a worker, customer or member of the public is injured or harmed as a result of their failure to discharge it.
However, JCC President Lloyd Distant is still uncertain as to whether access to vaccines at this point in time is reasonable enough to allow for a mandate by an employer.
The statement also says if a policy requires the use of any equipment, or the need to be vaccinated, the employer must provide such equipment and or arrange vaccinations at their expense, on their time, and at a place convenient to employees.
The joint advisory also believes any Covid-19 protocol or policy must include individual consultation with employees regarding its necessity.
The Ministry of Labour must also be called upon to mediate between the employer and employee regarding the unwillingness to adhere to Covid-19 measures.
It’s is only after this exhaustive process that an employee can be dismissed.
However, Mr. Distant is also of the view that any such policy cannot be applied uniformly and each employee must be dealt with individually.
The statement goes on to make it clear that this is not legal advice and the mentioned groups do not accept any responsibility should it be determined subsequently that the law is other than as set out above.
Meanwhile, Mr. Distant believes the government can do more to facilitate businesses in the enforcement of Covid-19 measures.
However, Mr. Distant believes that vaccine hesitancy is being reduced and he believes proper consultation with employees will have the desired effect.
Lloyd Distant, President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.
He was speaking with Nationwide News on Thursday afternoon.