May I dismiss my employee if he attends work knowing that he has COVID-19? The short answer to the above is YES.
In a recent case an employee was dismissed after being charged as follows:
- Gross misconduct relating to his alleged failure to disclose to his employer that he went for a Covid-19 test and was awaiting his results;
- Gross negligence in that after his Covid-19 test result came back positive, he continued working and had therefore put the lives of his colleagues at risk;
- During this period it was alleged that he had failed to abide by the health and safety protocols in the workplace.
The Labour Court ruled that the termination of employment of the employee was appropriate. The Court’s reasoning was the following:
- The employee was well aware that he was in direct contact with a person who had tested positive for Covid‑19 and had himself experienced symptoms;
- Through his actions, he had endangered the lives of everyone at the workplace including his colleagues, their families and communities;
- He should have known better given that he was a member of the ‘Coronavirus Site Committee’. He knew what he was supposed to do and failed to do so;
- His conduct was inconsiderate and nonchalant in that he ignored all health and safety protocols in the workplace;
- He walked around the workplace without a mask and hugging colleagues, thereby placing everyone he had been in contact with at great risk;
- He did not show any form of remorse on his part.
- He had also acted dishonestly in that he concealed the date upon which he received his Covid-19 test results.