COVID-19 Vaccinations Mandated for Authorised Workers in Victoria
- State and territory governments have made public health orders requiring certain workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in their state or territory.
- Employers and workers need to comply with any public health orders that apply to them.
The Victorian Government has introduced new COVID-19 vaccination requirements for authorised workers in Victoria who can’t work from home.
Authorised workers are required to have their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by 15 October 2021 in order to continue working onsite, and their second dose by 26 November 2021. This applies to authorised workers in both Melbourne and regional Victoria. Different timelines apply to workers in residential aged care, construction sites, healthcare settings, schools, childcare and early education services.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, “This is about making sure that we go that extra mile to protect the roadmap to opening… [presently planned for 26 October 2021], or perhaps even a few days earlier, and to make sure that we can open… and not have a health system overwhelmed with patients.”
Public health officials and leading health experts agree that vaccination is our best chance for protection in our fight against COVID-19. It is therefore vital that our essential workers, those who are currently able to move most freely around the state, get vaccinated.
Every Victorian who gets vaccinated is helping business to get open and to alleviate the pressure on our health system. COVID-19 presents a very different risk to an unvaccinated community than it does to a vaccinated community.
Fair Work Guidance
While the Australian Government’s policy is that receiving a vaccination is free and voluntary, it aims to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible.
With Australia’s vaccine rollout continuing and the increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, employers and employees are encouraged to work together to find solutions that suit their individual needs and workplaces. A collaborative approach in the workplace that includes discussing, planning and facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations is an important part of Australia’s vaccine rollout, because having a vaccine is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our community against COVID-19.
Employers can support their employees by:
- providing leave or paid time off for employees to get vaccinated
- helping to ensure employees have access to reliable and up-to-date information about the effectiveness of vaccinations – Learn about COVID-19 vaccines external-icon.png on the Department of Health’s website
- where employees do not wish to be vaccinated, or don’t yet have access to vaccinations, exploring other options including alternative work arrangements.
In some cases, employers may be able to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers should exercise caution if they’re considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in their workplace and get their own legal advice.
Employers can only require their employees to be vaccinated where:
- a specific law (such as a state or territory public health order) requires an employee to be vaccinated (see COVID-19 vaccinations: legislation and public health orders)
- the requirement is permitted by an enterprise agreement, other registered agreement or employment contract (see Agreements or contracts relating to vaccinations), or
- it would be lawful and reasonable for an employer to give their employees a direction to be vaccinated, which is assessed on a case-by-case basis (see Lawful and reasonable directions to get vaccinated).
One or more of these circumstances can apply when an employer is requiring an employee to be vaccinated. For example, an employer could rely on a state public health order that requires their employee to be vaccinated to give the employee a lawful and reasonable direction not to work unless they are vaccinated.
The Authorised Workers List (workers required to be vaccinated) can be located here.
From 15 October 2021, in order to work onsite at a work premises, you must be able to provide evidence to your employer that you have:
- received at least your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
- have a booking to receive your first dose by 22 October 2021, or
- have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner
This means that from 22 October 2021 onwards, you need to have received at least your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (unless you have a medical exemption) to attend work.
From 26 November 2021, you will also be required to provide evidence to your employer that you have received your second dose (unless you have a medical exemption) to attend work.
A work premises is anywhere you are required to be for your work outside the home (for example, a real estate work premises would include a home inspection, not just head office).
If you are working at or in any of the industries or facilities below, these requirements apply to you – including if you are:
- an employee
- a contractor (engaged by the employer or a third party)
- a volunteer
- a student on placement.
Further information on the directions for Victoria workers can be found here.
The Directions from the Acting Chief Health Officer in accordance with the emergency powers arising from declared state of emergency can be found here. This resource is particularly good for Victoria employers needing more information on their obligations to ensure unvaccinated workers do not work outside the principle place of residence until such a time as they are vaccinated. This document also outlines the process employers should follow.
If you have any questions or need advice and clarity specific to your business, feel free to contact Semmens & Co on 03 8320 0320 for a free consultation.