WorkSafe has received queries around how mandated vaccination will interact with a worker’s entitlement (worker refusing to be vaccinated and therefore not being able to work).
If an employer is simply enforcing Government mandated vaccination directions this would be considered appropriate, however they need to ensure that they are appropriately engaging their workforce, including by making relevant information available (referring employees to health and other information available) and supporting their employers with any questions/concerns they may have.
Employers will need to determine for themselves if a vaccine mandate is legal (based on their own legal advice).
A vaccine mandate will be permitted by an employer where it is:
a) necessary as an inherent requirement of a role; or
b) a lawful and reasonable direction.
The ‘inherent requirement’ test is a very high bar to meet and will apply only in limited circumstances (such as in some border security roles or in some high-care aged care facilities).
The question of whether a mandatory vaccination policy will be ‘lawful and reasonable’ will be considered by reference to a number of factors which include but may not be limited to:
a) if the profession is subject to a government mandate or other law on vaccination;
b) the health and safety of employees and those attending the workplace;
c) the nature of the role (is the role community facing or deal with vulnerable individuals, etc.);
d) the extent of community transmission, variant status and risk of transmission;
e) the use of, and ability to introduce, other control measures (social distancing, masks, sanitisation, testing, contact tracing, etc.)
f) vaccine availability and effectiveness;
g) an employee’s particular circumstances (including duties and risks associated with their role);
h) if an employee has a particular vulnerability to COVID-19 exposure; and
i) if an employee has a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated (i.e. medical reasons).
****Every individual matter will need to be considered on its merits.
Therefore, it is important employers engage their WorkCover Agent as early as possible where mandated vaccine enforcement may interact with a worker’s entitlement to WorkCover compensation and provide all relevant information to assist the Agent in making a determination on entitlement.
The Victorian State Government has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for Authorised Workers in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Those on the Authorised Worker List who cannot work from home will need to have had their first vaccine dose by 15 October 2021 and will need to have had both doses by 26 November 2021 (unless there is a medical exemption). For more information on the vaccine mandate,
Read the full media statement here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/vaccination-required-protect-workers-and-victoria