A Little Bit of Clarity Covid 19 Vaccination – Is It Really A Mandate?

I was helping a client out today explaining the health directives requiring covid 19 vaccinations to attend work and thought I would share it.

To confirm no State in Australia has legislated to mandate covid 19 vaccinations (or in fact any vaccination) i.e. if you are working from home and have no contact with others you don’t have to be covid 19 vaccinated. However, being covid 19 vaccinated is a condition that workers must meet to attend work in industries identified in government health directives, essentially any industry with face-to-face contact with others.

Conditions for work are very common and there are many circumstances where workers must meet with certain directives/ conditions imposed by their employer to enable them to work in certain industries e.g. working with children checks for child care workers, Q fever vaccination for abattoir workers, hepatitis for health care/ disability workers.

The direction to a worker by an employer to be covid 19 vaccinated before attending work within an identified industry is also a reasonable managerial direction and failure to comply is grounds for dismissal under the Fair Work Act 2009. Further, a workplace that allows a worker to attend a workplace in an industry that requires vaccination as a condition to attend will result in both the worker and the workplace being in breach of the health directive and liable for substantial fines under applicable health legislation.

It is important to stress to workers that the employer has no latitude to allow a worker to attend work who is not vaccinated and workers are free to choose not to be vaccinated but they are then unable to attend work as they will not meet the conditions required to attend.