Discovery has announced their plan to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for employees 

Vaccinations programmes are being rolled out all over the world, with the promise and potential of a return to “normal life” at the end of the rainbow.  

South African financial and health service provider, Discovery intends to implement a mandatory employee vaccination policy from January 1, 2022.  

Discovery’s buildings and associated sites will become vaccinated-only zones, where entry will be based on a negative covid-19 test or simply being fully vaccinated. 

In their annual report published on Thursday, September 2, 2021, the group stated that they had a moral and legal obligation to introduce the policy. Prior to the publication of the plan, Discovery consulted various legal and constitutional law experts on their duty to safeguard employees from all potential risks. 

In a Health-E News article, Cosatu spokesperson, Matthew Parks, stated that vaccinations must not infringe on employee rights. “Employers must not take advantage of the desperate situation workers find themselves in and the fear of losing their jobs,” Park says.  

Despite Discovery being a private company, Park says the private sector does not have the power to force workers to vaccinate.  

The process is specifically designed to consider their employees’ health, religious and other legal rights. “We recognise that each case is different and will thus treat it as such,” says Jo-Ann Ferreira, chief compliance officer at Discovery  

However, according to Discovery Health CEO, Dr Ryan Noach, if the case-by-case basis approach fails, employees will have to leave the company.  

Discovery joins South African private education group, Curro and insurance company, Sanlam, who have also mandated covid-19 vaccinations.  

Many international companies such as Delta Airlines and Amazon have imposed fining, payment docking and even contract terminations for unvaccinated employees. Such penalties are not being considered by Discovery.  

Ferreira tells Wits Vuvuzela that the plan aligns with their core purpose of “[Making] people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives.”  

The company has also introduced incentives for fully vaccinated members such as being awarded 2 500 vitality points. Vitality is Discovery’s behavioural change programme which incentivises members through rewards for taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle.  

They are not the only ones, Wimpy is offering free coffee and Game Stores a 10% weekly discount for vaccinated customers.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Ready, set, vax. Photo: Kemiso Wessie