Last week, it was decided in the National Cabinet that residential workers in the aged care sector will be mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine to remain employed. The Federal Government will require that at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be administered by mid-September.
We anticipate that there will be a public health order mandating the COVID-19 vaccine similar to those enacted in each State and Territory mandating the influenza vaccine. Relying on this, aged care sector employers will issue directions to their employees regarding the mandate.
Is the direction lawful and reasonable?
For a direction to be lawful, it needs to comply with any contract, industrial instrument and any existing laws. A public health order is one such instrument.
As to whether this direction would be reasonable, employers should consider, amongst other things:
- the individual circumstances of each employee, and whether they have a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated; and
- whether the direction is a reasonably practicable measure to eliminate or minimise risks to work health and safety.
It is likely that employers will have to take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person does not enter or remain on the premises of an aged care facility in contravention with any public health order.
We will keep you updated as more information is released.
If you would like to discuss this further and the implications for your business please contact our Employment + Workplace Relations Partner, Erin Lynch.
The contents of this publication do not constitute legal advice and are for general information purposes only. You should seek legal advice regarding your particular circumstances.