As we emerge from lockdown and adapt to a new "normal", people are seeking resources to help them make an informed decision regarding COVID-19 vaccination. Our Medical Director Dr. Jamie Phillips shares some evidence-backed information to help support you:
Mandatory vaccination in workplaces is a hot topic and while there can be a strong case for making any vaccination mandatory (or compulsory), it is essential that four conditions (requiring value judgements) are met:
There is a grave threat to public health.
The vaccine is safe and effective.
Mandatory vaccination has a superior cost/benefit profile compared with other alternatives.
The level of coercion is proportionate.
Work Health and Safety considerations of vaccination
Employers have a duty to eliminate or minimise the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace where possible. Vaccination is one of many COVID-safe measures. To minimise risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, an employer must:
undertake a risk assessment for their business (in some areas workplaces are required to develop COVID-19 safety plans under public health orders).
consider the effectiveness of available control measures and how they will help manage the risks of COVID-19, including any available vaccines.
consult with workers and their representatives about COVID-19 and relevant control measures, including the COVID-19 vaccines.
determine what control measures are reasonably practicable for the employer to implement in the workplace.
Safe Work Australia advise that it's more likely to be reasonably practicable to mandate COVID-19 vaccination where workers are required as part of their duties to:
interact with people with an increased risk of being infected with COVID-19 (for example, health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, hotel quarantine or border control workers).
have close contact with people who are more likely to develop serious illness from COVID-19 (for example, health care or aged care workers).
interact with customers, other employees or the public (for example, stores providing essential goods and services) where there is a high level of community transmission.
If an employer concludes (following a risk assessment) that introducing a mandatory vaccination policy is necessary to minimise the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, the employer needs to consult with workers and their representatives about the proposed vaccination policy. The employer should also provide all workers with relevant information and materials to assist their understanding of the issues.
Where employees are not vaccinated (for example, due to anaphylaxis), employers are required to minimise the risks to employees as much as they possibly can. In determining what is reasonably possible, the employer is likely to take into account all relevant matters including the likelihood of infection, the degree of harm that might result from infection plus the availability, suitability and cost of ways of minimising risk of infection.
Dismissal for vaccine refusal
Australian employers of high-risk workers could mandate COVID‐19 vaccination and may be seen as being lawful and reasonable, excepting for those with relevant medical exemptions. Where employee vaccination is mandated, organisations may become liable for any adverse outcomes of vaccination.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.