MTN says it has a responsibility for its employees health
South African operator MTN has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy for staff.
The policy, however, recognises the right of employees to apply to be exempted from the policy or refuse vaccination on “certain clearly defined grounds”.
Around seven per cent of Africans have been fully vaccinated, compared with a global rate of 55 per cent, according to recent figures cited by MTN.
The operator warns that it “will not be obliged to continue the employment contract” for staff who still refuse vaccination when they have not been exempted through risk assessment or agreed exclusions.
“The science is clear,” said MTN Group president and CEO Ralph Mupita. “Vaccination against COVID-19 reduces rates of serious infections, hospitalisation and death.
“As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure that our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision.”
Mupita highlighted that the new COVID-19 policy recognises that “some of our markets don’t have adequate access to vaccines.”
Expanding on this issue of access, Mupita said: “Vaccine equity continues to be a major issue for African countries. As MTN, we add our voice to the calls for more vaccines to be made available to African countries, as herd immunity will only happen when the whole globe has reached a sufficient level of COVID-19 vaccination.”
Mupita added: “The latest travel bans on African countries by developed nations are not based on science, are unjust and add to the lack of support for Africa that is much needed for an effective global response to the pandemic.
“African countries are being punished for the very transparency that’s actually needed to successfully combat the impact on lives and livelihoods of the COVID-19 virus.”
Mupita said that apart from taking into account access issues, the new vaccination policy recognises “some low- risk roles that will be accommodated with full-time work-from-home or alternate arrangements.”
However, he said, this comprises “a small population within our workforce.”
The new mandatory vaccination policy follows the company’s US$25 million donation to the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.