From our industrial relations experts, TTIA

Currently the policies of the Federal and State Governments is that vaccinations are voluntary, and at least at this time, there is no plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for any particular workgroups, such as occurred through Public Health Orders for influenza vaccination in the aged care sector in the earlier stages of the pandemic. Although voluntary, it is the aim of the National Policy to have as many people as possible vaccinated  as  part of  the national and global response to  the COVID-19 pandemic.

To assist employers in encouraging their employees to be vaccinated, the Federal  Government  has  published  a  range  of  ‘campaign  material’. 

It should be noted that the current government policy may be reconsidered where there is sufficient evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations not only reduce the risk of serious illness and death for people contracting the virus, but also reduce the risk of transmission.

In the meantime, employers should consider their policies concerning COVID-19 vaccinations in the overall management of COVID-19 risks for their workplaces.

In the absence of regulations mandating vaccinations for employees and other workers, some employers may have justification for requiring compulsory vaccination through a reasonable and lawful direction. Such a direction, however, would need to comply with any contract, award, or enterprise agreement, and any applicable Commonwealth, state or territory laws. To determine whether such a direction would be reasonable, would depend on the particular circumstances of a person’s employment and the circumstances in which it is given. There are a number of other factors that an employer would need to consider, including, but not limited to:

  • Safe Work Australia’s current advice that it ‘unlikely that a requirement to be vaccinated will be reasonably practicable’ as a WHS measure to manage the risks of the COVID-19 in the workplace, and the need for employers to continue to apply a range of COVIDSafe workplace measures, even where employees have been vaccinated;
  • the Federal and State Governments current policies not to mandate vaccinations in higher risk and/or more vulnerable workplace settings;
  • the limited availability of the vaccines for many workplaces, including availability relating to age categories; and,
  • an employee’s medical condition

There are also a number of matters to be considered where an employer/occupier intends to introduce a vaccination requirement for prospective employees, visitors, customers and others.

Safe Work Australia’s advice concerning COVID-19 vaccinations and employers, can be accessed via the following link:

From our industrial relations experts, TTIA

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