NCB introduces mandatory vaccination for all staff beginning month-end

Jamaica Observer

Whipping out numbers showing that the COVID-19 disease had taken a heavy toll on the company, NCB Financial Group President and CEO Patrick Hylton yesterday told the bank’s staff they would henceforth have to be fully vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, our NCB team has had almost 200 confirmed cases since March 2020, and we have experienced the heartbreak and extreme pain coming from the deaths of three members of our NCB family,” Hylton said in a circular to staff.

The decision made NCB the latest in a string of private companies which have decided to institute a policy of mandatory vaccination.

As a companion measure, NCB is requiring that any staff member who refuses to abide by the policy, even if working remotely, will have to present a negative PCR test by the Wednesday of each week, effective November 3, 2021.

NCB, Jamaica’s largest financial services provider, commanding with 40.8 per cent market share by assets of the commercial banking sector, operates a network of 36 locations and over 170 ABMs islandwide. It is ranked among companies employing between 1,000 and 5,000 employees.

The mandatory vaccine decision also appeared to pre-empt Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who has been giving increasingly clearer hints that a national vaccine mandate is on the horizon.

But it is bound to attract opposition from a sizeable number of Jamaicans who do not believe in vaccine mandates, arguing that people should be allowed to make up their own minds on whether to take the vaccine.

Explaining the bank’s decision, Hylton said the Government had imposed mask mandates, no-movement days, curfews, and restrictions on gathering to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, but to no avail.

“NCB itself has implemented several COVID-19 prevention measures across the business, including temperature checks, the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields, flexi-glass and hand sanitisers. However, our own measures are not enough either,” he said.

Hylton added: “Vaccines have emerged as the most effective measure to minimise transmission of the disease, prevent deaths and minimise hospitalisation from serious COVID-19-related illness. COVID-19 deaths are now occurring almost entirely among the unvaccinated.”

The policy begins to take effect October 31 when those who have been vaccinated, with one or two doses, will have to show their vaccination card as proof they have taken the jab. Those who have to take the PCR test will do so at their own expense.

“Employees who have not received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by October 31, 2021, and are unable to produce a current PCR test result and, consequently, are unable to attend work, will be required to take the days on which they are absent as unpaid leave.

“The employee may, with the agreement of his/her manager, use any vacation days that he/she has to his/her credit in lieu of unpaid days,” Hylton said.

The NCB president noted that consultations had been held with the NCB Staff Association which represents the bulk of the staff and the bank had also factored into its decision “legal and industry considerations”.

In one of the earliest responses to the vaccine mandate, a Twitter post signed by ‘Cyah wait fi 2022’, said: “God please strengthen di conviction of every anti-vaxxer at NCB (so) dem stand firm inna dem decision say dem nah tek it… knw how long me want a NCB job.”

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