The stand the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has taken that only members of staff that have received Covid-19 vaccination should be reporting for duties to the offices is a progressive one in the fight against the pandemic.
MEC announced in a press statement on August 2 2021 that unvaccinated members of staff should work from home until they access the vaccine. The organisation said it had made the decision “in the best interest of the staff and bearing in mind its statutory responsibility to provide a safe working environment to all its members of staff and personnel as well as the many benefits of taking the vaccine.”
MEC further stated that information from the Centres of Disease and Control mentions that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing Covid-19, especially severe illness and death and also reduce the risk of people spreading the virus.
The point to understand is that MEC has not fired any member of staff. But those who are yet to access the vaccine will work from home whether there is work for them to do at home or not. This means if there is work for them to do from home, they will be OK. But since there cannot always be work to do from home, they will think twice and yearn to get to the nearest vaccination centre to get the dose so they are not deemed surplus to requirement if others do their work from the office.
Working from home also means the unvaccinated members of staff cannot leave their homes for field work because that would mean making them come into contact with colleagues and risking infecting them if they have corona virus.
By the way, many organisations have adopted the ‘working from home’ policy as one way of preventing the spread of the pandemic. For the same reason, virtual meetings have now become the order of the day to prevent physical contacts—which is the major way the disease is spread.
So, in essence, while not violating or infringing the rights of any member of staff, MEC is instead safeguarding the rights of all members of staff to work in a safe environment, free from the risk of getting infected with diseases.
MEC’s decision is a call and reminder to all employees everywhere that they have a responsibility of contributing to the safety of their workplaces. How and who we are and what we do should aim to protect others as much as it protects us. This is a public good. Everyone has a fiduciary duty to safeguard the life of others. That is why law enforcers empowered by the Public Health (Corona Virus and COVID-19) (Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules, 2020, have been arresting people who throng public places without face masks.
At the time of writing this article on August 5 2021 over 1 700 people had died from the Covid-19 pandemic in Malawi. This is not just a statistic. Many of these are people we know, people we have interacted with. People we have dined with. These are our fathers, our mothers, our brothers, our sisters, our uncles and our aunties. We shall never know how many of these got infected by colleagues at the work place. We shall never know how many of these lives would have been saved had that workmate who had Coronavirus stayed at home on that day they infected Messrs X and Y at their work place.
Sadly, we are still dangerously surrounded by some people who are stubbornly refusing to be vaccinated for no convincing reason other than their fear of the sharp needle of the jab. Some can’t get the jab because of the 1 001 myths and unsubstantiated rumours being peddled through and fertilised by social media.
MEC has tactfully led the way. It has taken a bold stand on an issue many angels can’t tread. How I wish more organisations, both public and private, followed suit!