Minister Hayward affirms govt. has not implemented mandatory vaccination; maintains “vaccination is a personal choice”
HAMILTON, BERMUDA — The government of Bermuda has discouraged private-sector employers from laying off employees who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that mandatory vaccination has not been implemented on a national level.
This comes as vaccine hesitancy remains high across many Caribbean nations, and jurisdictions have taken varying approaches to the subject of requiring workers — particularly those considered to be on the frontline or those in the public service — to accept the shot.
Bermudian Minister of Labour Jason Hayward took a moment to set the record straight recently, addressing “a number of concerns reported to the Ministry of Labour from employees and members of the public about mandatory vaccinations within the workplace and the perceived treatment of Bermudian employees as it pertains to layoffs”.
“An employee who chooses not to be vaccinated must not be treated with discipline or termination of employment.” - Minister of Labour Jason Hayward
Minister Hayward noted, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many employers to review their business operations, including how best to protect their staff and clients from contracting the COVID-19 virus.
“Unfortunately, some employers have practiced laying off, suspending and even, in some cases, terminating employees who are not vaccinated.
“Employers and employees must recognize and understand that vaccination is a personal choice. An employee who chooses not to be vaccinated must not be treated with discipline or termination of employment.”
Mandatory vaccination not a government policy
Mincing no words on the mandatory vaccination question, Hayward emphasized that “this government has not made any statements or implemented legislation mandating vaccination in the workplace”.
As such, he said, “employers should utilize the methods and guidelines currently available through the Ministry of Health to maintain public safety as best as they can” rather than opt to axe their workers over the issue.
Additionally, the labour minister reminded employers of the moratorium on work permits that has been in place for a good portion of the pandemic as he acknowledged concerns that Bermudians were being laid off while foreign workers remained employed.
“Employees and their representatives, from various industries, have voiced concern that many employers are laying off Bermudian employees at a rate disproportionate to that of work permit holders,” he said.
“The ministry understands that due to the current economic climate in Bermuda, businesses find it challenging to remain open.