Vaccinating your Workforce- Mandatory Vaccines for all Authorised Workers
The Victorian Government has announced that all workers currently on the list of authorised workers must receive their first dose of a Covid-19 Vaccination by 22 October 2021 in order to continue to work outside their homes, and to have received their second dose by 26 November 2021.
Now that there is a government mandate for all authorised workers to have received a vaccination, there are obligations on employers to enforce the vaccination status of their employees, and to collect proof of such vaccination (namely the Covid-19 Vaccination Status Certificate provided by Medicare). For partially-vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, employers must hold evidence of a vaccine booking that would comply with the above dates. These records need to be collected by 15 October 2021.
An employee working outside of their home must provide proof of vaccination, evidence of a vaccine booking prior to the above cut-off dates, or a medical certificate that clearly states that the employee cannot receive a dose, or further dose, of any Covid-19 Vaccination due to an acute medical illness, or because it would be harmful to them (a contraindication). If such an employee is unable or unwilling to provide such proof, they must be treated by the employer as an unvaccinated person and must not be allowed to work outside of their home after 15 October 2021.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has published guidance on when a medical exemption for a Covid-19 vaccination will be issued. A temporary exemption may be provided for some people with certain acute major medical conditions, or where they have suffered a severe adverse reaction attributed to a previous dose of a Covid-19 Vaccine. These exemptions are currently recommended to be temporary and last for a maximum period of 6 months before requiring review. The full ATAGI guidance can be found here.
The new mandate covers all workers currently authorised to work outside of their primary place of residence. The full list is a available here.
The only exceptions to the mandate are if a worker:
Has been unable to receive their dose due to being in mandatory home quarantine (if they have been deemed a close contact and required to isolate), and can show proof of an appointment to receive their vaccination within 7 days of the relevant cut-off date.
Is required to provide urgent specialist medical care due to an emergency situation.
Is required to fill a vacancy to continue essential operations due to an emergency situation or critical unforeseen circumstance, or to perform essential work to protect the health and safety of other workers or the general public.
Is required to perform essential work to protect assets or infrastructure.
In any of these circumstances, the employer must ensure that the worker only works outside of their home for the bare minimum required time.
Failing to comply with the Health Directions regarding ensuring your workforce is vaccinated, and keeping the required records, could result in on-the-spot fines, or harsher penalties through the Court system.
The situation is rapidly shifting, and state government requirements will likely change as the roadmap to easing restrictions further evolves.
Contact RNG Lawyers to discuss the implications for your workforce and concerns regarding complying with the State Government mandate.