In light of the recent workers protest on allegations that some companies are imposing the so called “no jab, no job” policy, the Business Council of Papua New Guinea (BCPNG) has come out to say that no company or business have Covid-19 workplace policies that forcefully remove employees who do not wish to be vaccinated.
According to the BCPNG Executive Director Mr. Douveri Henao, workplace COVID-19 policies are there to protect the employees and to ensure the continuity of a business or a company’s operation.
He went on to explain that Papua New Guinea’s work environment, unlike industrialized nations where most jobs are now automated, still involves human to human interactions, and with the main form of transmission of the virus being from person to person, it is important to protect the critical aspect of the organizations work, this includes the critical employees to the job and the critical functions of the job.
“We on the other hand do not have that level of technology and infrastructure in most of our businesses and therefore, human to human operation is still paramount in many businesses across the country,” said Mr. Henao.
This is the reason why many workplace have undergone extensive investments in ensuring there is no transmission of the virus in the workplace by placing hand sanitizers, maintaining social distancing and in some cases buying ventilators and testing.
Mr. Henao also added that in extreme cases, entire hospitals have been built where those businesses are located. All these put together has seen upwards to K70, 000 to K9.5 million spent right across the entire market on investments in COVID prevention in the workplace for companies and businesses.
But now with the availability of vaccines, he said vaccination may become an important part of workplace safety, especially with the critical workforce.
“We have also surveyed critical employees and majority of them have already been vaccinated because they realize that it’s their role in their company that they need to protect the value chain.”
“It is important to note that they were not forced, they actually did that out of their own free will,” he added.
According to the Business Council’s recent survey on COVID-19 vaccination for business, 27% of Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors in the country have indicate that 60% to 90% are critical employees. 40% are females while 58% males.
“Now that’s a significant number in terms of folks that need to do their utmost best that they do not get the virus or have transmission rates in their workplace.”
Nevertheless, he said business and company managements cannot force employees to get vaccinated.
“If they don’t want to get vaccination, then there are processes and procedures where they can shift into non- critical areas in the value chain, or in some cases, they have to automate that particular job because of its sensitivity, and the third scenario is that start employing people that are vaccinated to go work in these critical areas.”
Picture: Mr. Douveri Henao