Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations & Employees – What we know now

March 15th, 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations & Employees – What we know now

As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine comes closer to those in the workforce, the issue of employees and vaccinations will soon be another difficult issue for businesses to navigate.

The Fair Work Ombudsman and Safe Work Australia have steadily been compiling their own resources on managing this issue and the legalities surrounding it. If you’re a business owner or a manager within a business you should familiarise yourself with the requirements if this issue arises or if you can already foresee that it will enliven. To assist, we’ve compiled a summary of key take outs:

Compulsory Vaccination For Employees?

At the moment, there is no State or Commonwealth law that makes it compulsory for any class of person to be vaccinated. This may change in the future, however, and will most likely be industry specific and those in high risk industries.

What if an Employee Refuses to be Vaccinated?

You should have an open discussion with the employee and explain the reasons why you think it is important to be vaccinated, and obtain in return the employee’s reasons for not being vaccinated. There may be a valid medical reason that the employee cannot be vaccinated. If after a discussion the employee is steadfast in not being vaccinated, you should again have a two-way discussion about what alternative working arrangements can be implemented.

Refusing to be vaccinated is not a valid reason to terminate an employee, unless laws or employment awards are changed in the future.

Can Vaccinated Employee Refuse Attendance because Unvaccinated Co-Worker?

As there is no legal requirement to be vaccinated, a vaccinated employee cannot lawfully refuse to attend the workplace. Similar to above, a separate discussion should be had with each of the vaccinated employee and the unvaccinated employee to discuss their respective concerns and to alternative working arrangements can be implemented.

Prospective Employees & Vaccination?

You are entitled to ask if a prospective employee has been vaccinated or intends on being vaccinated.

If you want your employees and future employees to be vaccinated, you should update your respective concerns and what alternative working arrangements can be implemented.