COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccinations in the Workplace: A Developing Jurisprudence

Authors Jeremy Phillips, Amogelang Makuwa & Shamima Gaibie

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Candidate Attorney, Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc (CTH); Senior Associate, CTH; Senior Director, CTH
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 43 Issue 4, 2022, p. 2163 – 2188


The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on the world. No facet of society has been left unscathed, including the law. Prevailing medical opinion is that the best way to protect against COVID-19 in the future is through mass population vaccination. As a result, employers the world over are having to make the difficult decision whether to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees. However, in South Africa there has been no definitive pronouncement on the lawfulness of such a policy, and how it may be enforced. Instead, the Labour Court, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and bargaining councils have been left to grapple with the question in a piecemeal fashion as each new case is referred. This article seeks to survey pre-existing precedent and the various judgments and awards delivered thus far on mandatory vaccination to determine the legality of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate and how it may be lawfully enforced in the workplace.