Vaccinations now mandatory for aged care workers – What it means for SMEs

Published June 29, 2021 -
Mandatory Aged Care Vaccines

National Cabinet has agreed to make vaccines mandatory for all quarantine and aged workers, but for other employers, existing laws surrounding vaccinations in the workplace remain the same.

While employers, including SMEs, cannot force an employee to get the jab, they should continue to do everything reasonably practicable to reduce the risk to health and safety in the workplace. As such, employers should maintain open communication with their employees over their workplace vaccination rights, responsibilities and options.

“The decision to introduce a COVID-19 vaccination program in the workplace should be based upon a valid risk assessment that is undertaken in consultation with employees,” said Larry Drewsen, Health and Safety Manager at Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

“Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of all employees and others who visit the workplace, and therefore may need to consider introducing a vaccination program, or ensure employees are vaccinated.

“As they cannot legally enforce it, employers should consult with employees who are unable, or don’t want the COVID-19 vaccination, and discuss alternative measures that can help them do their job safely.”

Another new decision announced by the federal government is the move to allow anyone under 60 the option to get the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if they request it from their GPs.

While they are unable to mandate it, employers can ask the question to their employees on whether or not they want the jab, make suggestions, and provide them with relevant government health advice. Workers do not however, have to tell their employer if they have been vaccinated, or even give a reason behind it.

To keep on the safe side, employers should assume a worker is unvaccinated if they do not disclose their vaccination status, and should inform that worker of this assumption.

Employers should monitor which employees have been vaccinated by using employee management software, such as BrightHR. BrightHR’s Vacctrak feature lets employers monitor who is fully, partially, or not vaccinated against COVID-19 in the workplace, and make rostering / working arrangement changes accordingly.

Employers should also consider introducing a detailed infection control policy which addresses vaccinations. Staff should be reminded of existing infection control measures already in place, such as physical distancing, routine environmental cleaning, and the use of hand-sanitiser and personal protective equipment. 

“It is up to employers to encourage their workers to get vaccinated and provide them with correct government health information. Employers have an obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure a safe workplace, and vaccinations are a critical component if we are to successfully come out of this pandemic,” Mr. Drewsen concluded.

Media Enquires:

Matthew Bridges
[email protected]

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