The first labour-related court case on Covid-19 can serve before the Labour Court as early as next week. Solidarity intends to bring an urgent application on behalf of Dr Megan Sarah Martin. This comes after Dr Martin treated a patient at the Levai Mbatha Community Health Centre who showed symptoms of the virus. Dr Martin’s application for leave was declined and she was forced to continue to see more patients.
In a letter of demand to the community health centre Solidarity called on the centre to give an undertaking before 10:00 this morning that Dr Martin would be placed on leave pending the test results of the patient in question. The centre did not meet the deadline to give such an undertaking and Solidarity is now meeting with its legal team to make a final decision on urgent legal action.
“Health practitioners will play a decisive role in the fight against Covid-19. We have to protect them so they can protect us. In this matter we are acting on behalf of health professionals, but also on behalf of South Africans in general. Solidarity expects an avalanche of legal cases arising from Covid-19 because of the legal uncertainty that prevails,” Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s Chief Executive said.
“It is the legal obligation of any institution to ensure the safety of its employees, and to adhere to the protocols required with regard to the Covid-19 virus,” Anton van der Bijl, head of Labour Law Services at Solidarity said.
The Levai Mbatha Community Health Centre also failed to provide the necessary personal protection equipment (“PPE”) to health professionals, thus increasing the risk of infection multifold.
“Dr Martin feels responsible for the safety and wellness of her patients, but now feels that she has to put them at risk because her employer requires her to do so. As Solidarity’s demand was not met, we will bring an urgent application to ensure her safety and that of her patients,” Van der Bijl concluded.