Employers and employees must collaborate for the best outcomeTuesday, August 10, 2021
As public debate mounts regarding mitigation measures to manage the pandemic, the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica (HRMAJ) views the varying perspectives as new ground in many ways.
We support the need for collaboration on measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and to return our country to normality in the shortest possible time. We support employers encouraging their employees to take the vaccine and ensuring adherence to all protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness within their organisations.
We support employees in proactively consulting with their medical advisors, reviewing the Ministry of Health and Wellness's information, reviewing their health status, and considering whether to take the vaccine once their concerns are aired and cleared up.
Employees, however, should not be forced to take the vaccine or declare their vaccination status to their employers. Instead, all employees should be mandated to observe the protocols as stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and other approved bodies from time to time, including the wearing of their masks at work.
Additionally, employers should ensure that all protocols are maintained to ensure customers do not expose staff members to risk. Employers should, therefore, respect the rights of employees to make personal choices in this matter in the absence of legal mandates, and not impose requirements on their employees to be vaccinated as a condition for continued employment, pay, benefits, access to promotion, or other opportunities.
Bearing the above in mind, employers can, of course, craft policies that are within the law to govern their business and employees. All the evidence, including local reports and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, points to the possibility of both vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees being infected with the novel coronavirus and able to infect both vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees. HRMAJ, therefore, supports precautionary testing of all employees, whether vaccinated or not, if commonly understood symptoms present themselves.
Employees are encouraged to exercise extreme caution in any necessary shared unmasked environments as a way of reducing their personal risk of contracting the virus.
Lois C A Walters
Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica