For most employers, probably not.
The Fair Work Ombudsman, however, states that there are ‘limited circumstances where an employer may require their employees to be vaccinated.’
- The State or Territory Government enacts a public health order requiring the vaccination of workers (for example, in identified high-risk workplaces or industries).
- An agreement or contract requires it – some employment agreements already require employees to be vaccinated and where these clauses exist, they will need to be reviewed to determine if they also apply to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- A lawful and reasonable direction – employers are able to issue a direction for employees to be vaccinated but whether that direction is lawful and reasonable will be assessed on a case by case basis. It’s more likely a direction will be “reasonable” where, for example, there is an elevated risk such as border control and quarantine facilities, or where employees have contact with vulnerable people such as those working in health care or aged care.
If an employee refuses to be vaccinated on non-medical grounds in a workplace that requires it, standard protocols apply. That is, the employer will need to follow through with disciplinary action – there are no special provisions that enable suspensions or stand-downs for employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Can an employer require evidence of vaccination?
In general, an employer can only require evidence of vaccination if they have a lawful and reasonable reason to do so. Requesting access to medical records and storing data of an individual’s medical information will also have privacy implications (see the Office of the Information Commissioner for more details).
Your immunisation history is already accessible through your myGov account when it is linked to Medicare. The Express Plus Medicare app enables you to access this information on your phone.
More details are expected shortly on Australia’s “vaccine passport” that will enable the quick identification of an individual’s vaccination status.
Should you have any questions with regard to COVID-19 vaccinations and the Workplace please submit an online enquiry now or call Peter Quinn on +61 2 9580 9166. We also offer a FREE 45-minute consultation should you have other financial planning, taxation or superannuation issues you may wish to discuss.
The information in this document does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs, and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. It is important that your personal circumstances are taken into account before making any financial decision and it is recommended that you seek assistance from your financial adviser.