COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in the workplace must be nipped in the bud

Published July 05, 2021 -
Vaccine Misinformation

It is the responsibility of employers to provide staff with the most up-to-date evidence-based information regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine, to minimise the risk of misinformation being spread in the workplace.

As the vaccine continues to roll out across the country, there has been an increase in misinformation surrounding it in the form of social media posts, letterbox drops, and even advertisements.

In the event this misinformation spreads into the workplace, Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor, wants employers to educate their employees, and do as much as reasonably practicable to stop the spread.

“Vaccinations are often a controversial topic in the workplace and can lead to conflict between business owners and their employees,” said Employsure employment relations specialist Nicholas Hackenberg.

“The most important thing an employer can do is incorporate an effective infection control policy which addresses vaccinations and subsequent immunisation programs. If employees need to be provided with more advice, they should be directed to the websites of relevant health authorities, such as the Department of Health.”

If an employer does become aware of vaccine misinformation in the workplace, or if the topic of vaccinations is seen to be causing conflict, it is recommended for the employer to hold a meeting with relevant employees. This gives the employer the opportunity to investigate the concerns and opinions of employees, and then base any further action off the back of that meeting.

The action that should be taken regarding misinformation is dependent on what has been said in the workplace and the subsequent meeting, the severity of what has been said, and the potential impact it could have on other employees.

If an employee is found to have purposely spread misinformation through the workplace despite a policy or direction not to do so, the business may consider disciplinary action for failure to comply with a reasonable management direction. Depending on the circumstances and provided a fair process is followed, this may give an employer grounds for dismissal either with or without notice or payment of notice in lieu.

“This is a topic that is not necessarily defined by legislation, so it is hard to lay out the exact steps and actions an employer should take to deal with it.

“Nevertheless, it is reasonable to set expectations about appropriate behaviour at work. Employers have an obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure a safe workplace, and providing correct information about vaccinations, particularly during a pandemic, is a critical component of this,” concluded Mr Hackenberg.


Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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