Prosecution awaits Employers paying CoVID-19 vaccination bonuses

The Ministry of Labour has directed that setting CoVID-19 vaccination as a pre-condition for the award of end of the year bonuses as being done by some employers is not supported by the National Labour Laws and rules of natural justice.

Thus if employers who will ignore this advice from the Ministry “stand the risk of being prosecuted and this may result in serious damage to businesses, both financially and in terms of image”.

An incentive for National Bank staff

In a press statement by Secretary for Labour, Dickson Chunga says the Public Health Act (Public Health Corona Virus and COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules, 2020 — in particular the Fourth Schedule (Workplace Guidelines) gives obligations to the employers to take precautionary measures, including risk assessment and mitigation to stop the spread of the corona virus at the workplace.

“The Ministry of Labour has, however, noted with concern that some employers require vaccination against COVID-19 as a pre-condition for the award of end of year bonuses to their employees.

“While the intention is good, namely to promote the uptake of the vaccine among employees which will make their workplaces safer against Covid-19, the action is, nevertheless, not supported by the National Labour Laws and rules of natural justice as elaborated below:

1.Bonus in employment is usually awarded on the basis of an employee’s performance, celebrating end of year season or profit sharing:

2.There is no scientific evidence showing a positive correlation between COVID-19 vaccination and an employee’s performance that would justify bringing the vaccination status into consideration in the award of bonuses to employees;

3.COVID-19 vaccination as a pre-condition for the award of bonuses has the effect of denying deserving employees their due bonus if they choose to exercise their right not to get vaccinated;

4.The requirement for COVID-19 vaccination has also the effect of compelling employees to take the vaccine in order to be considered for the bonus.

The Ministry maintains that this is contrary to Section 5 (1) of the Employment Act, as amended, “which prohibits discrimination of employees on the basis of their status, vaccination inclusive”.

“It is also contrary to the prevailing Government position that vaccination is voluntary which is why the Ministry of Health has repeatedly advised against compulsory vaccination

“Thus, on the basis of our National Labour Laws, making COVID-19 vaccination an eligibility criterion for bonus is an infringement on the rights of employees and in view of this, all employers are hereby advised against linking, in any way, COVID-19 vaccination status to the bonus payable to employees.

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, Government is advising employers to explore alternative ways of encouraging their employees to go for the COVID-19 vaccination while being mindful of employees’ Labour and human rights.

“In this regard, the input of employees is valuable, hence the need to engage them through social dialogue,” says the Ministry.

At a press conference on Wednesday, co-chairperson of the task force CoVID-19, Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda said the government will implement mandatory vaccination in January for certain categories including health workers and everyone in the public service.

Those in the social sector, including journalists, are also expected to undergo mandatory vaccination as the total number of Omicron cases in the country reached 16 as of Wednesday.

So far, a total of 1,587,487 vaccine doses have been administered and cumulatively 946,691 have received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine while 356,955 have had their second jab.

Those who have had the one-off Johnson and Johnson are at 283,841 — bringing a total of 640,796 people who are fully vaccinated.

Over the past 24 hours of Wednesday, 9,125 and 2,688 people have received first dose and second of AstraZeneca vaccine respectively.

The presidential task force on CoVID-19 has released new measures to take effect from Monday December 20 that bans mass political rally gatherings, attendance of football matches while daily closure of bars is set at 10pm.

Yet this weekend there are four mass gatherings that are potential CoVID-19 spreaders involving the main Tonse Alliance partner, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition.

MCP has organised two mega rallies — one at Masintha Ground and another one at Mitundu Trading Centre in the outskirts of the Lilongwe City while the DPP/UDF rally is scheduled for Njamba Freedom Park this Sunday where former President Peter Mutharika (APM) and UDF leader, Atupele Muluzi are the headliners.

There is also a crowd pulling match — the Airtel Top 8 final on Sunday at the Kamuzu Stadium between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers — another potential CoVID-19 virus super spreader.

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President Mkango Chisokonezo Manthakanjenjemereza
President Mkango Chisokonezo Manthakanjenjemereza
1 year ago

The how do the ministry of labour treat the directive to vaccinate all civil servants by January. Is it an acceptable norm? What about the CSTU stand? What about religious stand on this for those who do not take any medicine?

Tambala Wakuda
1 year ago

How different is it from the compulsory vaccination being planned by the Ministry of Health for Civil Servants? Surely it is also against Labour Laws, the Minister must be prosecuted as well

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