As an employer, talking to employees and encouraging them to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is very important for your workplace.
Not only does vaccination help make workplaces safer, but with the federal government indicating lockdowns will only end once COVID-19 vaccination targets are reached1, it’s the best way to help businesses back to normal. Even if your business hasn’t been directly affected by closures, it’s still important to think about employees who may be finding lockdown challenging for their productivity and morale.
Know your rights and obligations
Firstly, understand what you can and can’t ask your employees to do with regards to COVID-19 vaccination. The Fair Work Ombudsman recently updated its advice2, saying that employers can only require their staff to have a vaccination:
- if a specific law requires it (see here for details). They vary state-by-state but include quarantine, airport and health and aged care workers
- the requirement is permitted by an enterprise agreement or similar (see here)
- 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 here).
If you’re wondering how vaccination impacts your Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) obligations, look at Safe Work Australia. Research your own particular workplace, but Safe Work does say “most employers will not need to make vaccination mandatory to comply with the model WHS laws”.3
As an employer, also be aware the Office of the Information Commissioner says you can only require your employees to disclose their vaccination status in limited circumstances4.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration provides helpful guidance which explains how you can lawfully provide communications about COVID-19 vaccines to support the Government's COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, including distribution of government material and how you may develop your own content.