17 May 2021 by Employment Law Alert

The Department to the rescue: Vaccine funding for uninsured workers

On 14 May 2021, the Minister of the Department of Employment and Labour (Department) announced that through the Compensation Fund, in partnership with Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) and Federated Employer’s Mutual Assurance (FEMA), R1,35 billion has been set aside for the procurement of vaccines for approximately three million workers who are not covered by a medical aid scheme (Vaccination Scheme).

The Vaccination Scheme is a collaborative effort by the public and private sector to ensure the health and safety of workers who are not covered by a medical aid provider and an attempt to close the funding gaps in relation to procurement of vaccines in the government vaccination programme. The Vaccination Scheme is a commitment by the Department to ensure the safety of all workers irrespective of their financial status and to ensure that workers are not disadvantaged as a result of not being a member of a medical aid scheme. The Vaccine Scheme is set to commence in phase 2 of the government vaccine roll out programme.

The Vaccine Scheme is a welcomed initiative for employers who wish to encourage employees to be vaccinated prior to attending the workplace but are unable to provide funding to employees in this regard.

The Vaccine Scheme will also reduce the burden on the Department and in particular, the Compensation Fund, who have already received a total of 22 333 claims and has accepted liability for 11 466 claims made in terms of the Workplace-Acquired COVID-19 Directive issued by the Department in July 2020.

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