Employers have an ongoing obligation to ensure the health and safety of the people in their workplace ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This includes introducing control measures aimed at eliminating or reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and ensuring employees stay home if they feel ill.
Mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees may seem like a practical measure to help eliminate or reduce the risk of COVID-19 in your workplace. However, some employees may be unwilling to receive a vaccination. Can an employer insist that the employee receive a vaccination?
At the time of writing, neither the federal government nor the Victorian government have mandated a COVID-19 vaccine in all workplaces.
Vaccines for specific diseases may be mandated for specific workplaces. In Victoria, the Health Services Amendment (Mandatory Vaccination of Healthcare Workers) Act 2020 allows the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to make it mandatory for certain health care service providers and establishments to ensure all employees have been vaccinated against nominated diseases.
If the law requires an employer to ensure that all employees in a specific workplace have received a COVID-19 vaccination, then an employee unable or unwilling to receive the vaccination may not be able to meet the inherent requirements of their employment.
For other employers, introducing a requirement for all employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination may not be ‘lawful and reasonable’ and may breach discrimination and other workplace laws.
If you have any employment related concerns, please get in touch with one of our offices.
MORGAN COUZENS LEGAL
If you would like further information on COVID-19 and employers, please read our blog: