South Africa: Get Vaxxed or Get Sacked - Is Dismissal of Employees for Refusing to Get Vaccinated Permissible in the Labour Relations Act?


Robyn Snyman and Bukhobethu Matyeni are candidate legal practitioners completing their practical vocational training. Both hold LLB degrees. They write in their personal capacity.

The gazetted directives, which spell out what employers have to do to introduce compulsory Covid-19 vaccination in their workplace - and the steps they have to take if they want to fire someone who refuses vaccination - are a useful starting point for employers and employees alike who want to know if someone can lose their job over the issue. But the matter is far from clear-cut and it will probably need to be tested in the courts for us to have legal clarity.

For many South Africans the Covid-19 pandemic has brought waves of uncertainty. Throughout, the pinnacle of uncertainty has always rested with the implications of the virus for the South African workforce.

The detection of the Omicron variant and President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that the government would be looking into the possibility of mandatory vaccinations have provoked a new wave of uncertainty among the public, particularly around the question of whether a refusal to get vaccinated can warrant dismissal. Can an employer dismiss an employee for refusing to get vaccinated? And would such...

AllAfrica publishes around 500 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.