Your Covid-19 questions answered

How can I encourage my colleagues to get vaccinated?

The department of employment and labour says the law does not allow employers to discipline employees who flout Covid-19 regulations outside work. Stock photo.
The department of employment and labour says the law does not allow employers to discipline employees who flout Covid-19 regulations outside work. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Aleksandr Davydov

Covid-19 has brought many challenges to workplaces and employers over the last year, with one of these being vaccine hesitancy. 

Encouraging people to vaccinate themselves against the virus without actually enforcing the jab has proven to be a challenge for some. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that employers and colleagues can encourage each other to get vaccinated by sharing clear, complete, and accurate messages, promoting confidence in the decision to get vaccinated, and engaging others in plans to address potential barriers to vaccination.

“Allow time for vaccine confidence to grow. Employees who are hesitant at first may become more confident after seeing co-workers get vaccinated,” said the CDC. 

Employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi said companies should find a reasonable resolution that accommodates all parties when employees refuse to be vaccinated on medical or constitutional grounds.

Nxesi, who issued new directives for workplace vaccinations in June, said this formed part of the new consolidated direction on occupational health and safety measures in certain workplaces. 

“What is critical is that we need to balance the needs and take into account the dictates of collective bargaining and the need to keep employees healthy and businesses running. The Labour Relations Act emphasises the primacy of collective agreements.”

Based on limited evidence, guaranteed gift incentives are also effective in getting people vaccinated. 

Approaches that workplaces can use include cash bonuses, paid time off or vacation days, gift cards, free products, and offering flexible and non-punitive sick leave options for employees experiencing symptoms after vaccination.

Around the world, some countries are offering hunting rifles, shotguns, custom trucks and weekend excursions to state parks as incentives to get vaccinated.

Sky News reported the UK was offering cheaper rides on Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo and discounted meals from Pizza Pilgrims to encourage young people to get vaccinated.

In August, the late Johannesburg mayor Jolidee Matongo said the city was considering offering incentives to residents, particularly men, to be vaccinated against the virus. 

He said the city was looking at creative ways to encourage men to get the jab, such as giving away raffle tickets to win a car. 

Matongo said the car prize was particularly aimed at men because they “want to enjoy life”. 

In June, Uber SA offered 100,000 free rides until July 8 to help school staff get vaccinated.

Restaurant chain Wimpy offered free coffee to those who got vaccinated, and retailer Game announced discounts for those who had their jabs.

More recently, the government announced it would give R100 grocery vouchers to all those over 50 who get vaccinated.


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