Trade Union Leaders in support of vaccination- One prominent local attorney with years of labor-related experience is heaping praise on the joint statement from several business groups and trade unions on a COVID-19 workplace protocol.
Speaking with CVM LIVE Monday, Attorney Conrad George says it is as much the employer’s responsibility to protect the interest of staff as it is in the interest of staff to safeguard themselves and others. He is also insisting that the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, (PSOJ) and partners protocol is a step in the right direction as talks of vaccination mandates grew tense.
Among the many signatories to the protocol issued Friday were the Jamaica Employers’ Federation, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The 5-page document outlined among other things the legal duties owed by employers. These include providing a safe system of work for staff and customers. In the context of COVID-19, it says the employer should consider implementing a policy to protect workers, customers, and members of the public giving regard to what is reasonably necessary for an individual workplace.
Attorney Conrad George says this supports for example the need for vaccination of workers as the case may be in certain workspaces where staff work closely.
It however notes that these duties are legally enforceable against the employer, who can be sued if a worker etc is injured or harmed because the employer failed to do their part. The protocol also outlines what is owed legally by employees which include doing nothing unreasonable that would cause the employer to become a legal liability to another employee.
Ultimately while some employees may reject for example mandatory vaccination demands, options such as working from home or flexible work schedules where possible should be considered.
George says the protocol guides the process for mutually benefiting outcomes for employees and employers, adding companies should not only consult with employees before mandating but being open to finding mutual solutions.