While the Australian Government’s policy is that receiving a vaccination is free and voluntary, it aims to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible.
With Australia's vaccine rollout continuing and the increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, employers and employees are encouraged to work together to find solutions that suit their individual needs and workplaces. A collaborative approach in the workplace that includes discussing, planning and facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations is an important part of Australia’s vaccine rollout, because having a vaccine is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our community against COVID-19.
Employers can support their employees by:
- providing leave or paid time off for employees to get vaccinated
- helping to ensure employees have access to reliable and up-to-date information about the effectiveness of vaccinations – Learn about COVID-19 vaccines on the Department of Health’s website
- where employees do not wish to be vaccinated, or don’t yet have access to vaccinations, exploring other options including alternative work arrangements.
In some cases, employers may be able to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers should exercise caution if they’re considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in their workplace and get their own legal advice.
Find more information about these topics below.
Mandatory Vaccination Policies: The Fair Work Commission hands down its most important decision yet
In a significant decision handed down last Friday (CFMMEU v Mt Arthur Coal  FWCFB 6059), the Fair Work Commission held that a requirement or direction to comply with a mandatory vaccination policy at a BHP workplace was not a lawful and reasonable direction because the employer had not complied with its WHS consultation obligation. The Commission did indicate that, but for this, there was a strong case to support the policy. The requirement regarding mandatory vaccination at the site was found not to be reasonable because of the failure to consult with employees prior to its introduction.
The decision is also important for employers who have or plan to introduce their own mandatory vaccination policies (as distinct from compliance with relevant public health directions) because the Commission adopted a number of propositions about COVID-19, safety measures and vaccination.