The deadline for certain categories of workers in St Vincent and the Grenadines to take the COVID-19 vaccine is fast approaching. If such employees decide not to take the vaccine by the said date and stay off the job, there are consequences.
By November 19, 2021, a scheduled list of Central government employees and some in State entities will be required to take the vaccine as a standard or qualification to work.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during a radio programme on WEFM 99.9 explained it is not a mandate but a requirement for a job.
Under the Public Service Regulations in SVG, Gonsalves said if someone does not turn up for work for 10 calendar days, that person is deemed to have abandoned the job.
The prime minister explained that after November 19 for nurses, teachers and the like, from that day onwards after the 19, they will be deemed to have abandoned their job if they stay away for 10 days.
He said the law in relation to those employees will apply that if they abandon their job they cannot go back unless the Public Service Commission says they can.
Gonsalves further stated that if someone clearly misses some days and on the 10th day of abandonment decides to take the vaccine and goes back to work, that person will not be paid for those 10 days, but can be charged for misconduct if they turned up during that period of work when they were unvaccinated if the job requires they be vaccinated.
Turning to the police force which has a different regime, the prime minister said after two days an officer can be charged for desertion and also be charged for failing to report for duty.
He said a regulation is to be published to place the police in this respect during the period of the health emergency (COVID), on the same footing with the nurses, teachers and the like, that if they are absent without reasonable excuse for 10 calendar days, they would be deemed to have resigned.