Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister in St Vincent and the Grenadines Sehon Marhsall has sought to clarify misinformation surrounding the matter of religious exemption to the vaccine which has come out from the camp of the SVG Teacher’s Union.
Marshall said the Cabinet does not approve or determine the outcome of an application for a “religious exemption”; and the Cabinet does not see the applications. The applications are dealt with by the CPO under the constitutional jurisdiction of the PSC.
He said the Cabinet is, among other things, a subsidiary law-making body, through regulations (Statutory Rules and Orders), and within the frame of the relevant Act (in this case, the Public Health Act Chapter 300 of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines).
It was added that in this capacity the Cabinet approves the form but it has nothing to do with an application submitted on that form.
Marshall also attached the actual wording of the law:
The Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules No. 28 of 2021 in addressing “religious exemption” is as follows:
“An employer may exempt an employee to whom Rule 5 [the vaccination requirement] applies from the requirement for vaccination —
on religious grounds if the employer is able to make alternative arrangements to accommodate the employee.”
“The application for exemption on religious grounds must be in a form approved by the Cabinet.”
In addition, The Public Service Management Act No. 17 of 2021) establishes in Section 8 thereof a Personnel Department. The act specifies in Section 8(2)(a) that the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) is the head of the Personnel Department. Section 8(3) of the said Act states:
“The Personnel Department shall —
- Administer the regulations; and
Perform other functions imposed on the Personnel Department by this Act, the regulations or any other written law.”