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COVID-19 Business Continuity – Can Employers Require Staff to get Vaccinated

I’m here with the COVID-19 continuity update for Australian businesses on 11 February 2021, and this briefing follows on from my briefing on 9 February 2021 about vaccinations.

As Australia nears the commencement of the covid vaccination program in late-February, we know that there will be some people who have reservations about receiving the vaccine.

The question will almost certainly be raised of whether employers can require their employees to be vaccinated.

The Australian government has reiterated this week that the vaccine will be voluntary for all Australians. However, the prime minister has also stated, “It’s not mandatory to work in an occupation, but it can be a requirement of an occupation for public health reasons that certain vaccinations are in place.”

For example, flu vaccines are required for most aged care and hospital workers under state public health orders introduced early in the pandemic.

Dr Nick Coatesworth, former deputy Chief Medical Officer and now a senior administrator at a Canberra hospital, said he would encourage vaccinations for staff in his hospital, rather than make it mandatory.

“We need to convince our healthcare workers just as much as the community at large that this is an effective vaccine and a safe vaccine and like the community, we can’t force anyone to take the vaccine,” Dr Coatsworth said.

Like other risk management issues, there will be different approaches as to how vaccine policies will be implemented in workplaces. Your business coach can help you understand the issues as they relate to your specific business, your employees and the clients you service.

For some of you as business owners, decisions around whether vaccinations are required for your team members may be influenced by your clients and the requirements they have for ensuring the safety of their employees and sites. We can foresee situations where contractors won’t be allowed onto sites without having been vaccinated. This might apply to sites such as hospitals and aged care facilities, but could also extend to other workplaces. You may find that the ability of your employees to work at various sites could be severely curtailed if they are not vaccinated.

At this point, vaccinations are yet to commence; the purpose of this briefing is to put it on your radar and make you aware of conversations that may arise in the near future.

Ash

Ashley Thomson B.Eng. (Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Managing Director
Tenfold Business Coaching

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