13 August 2021

Are COVID vaccination directions coming to your workplace?

This article was written by Philip Willox & Holly Gretton.

The Federal Government has made it clear that it will not mandate COVID vaccinations and that it will be up to employers to determine whether they can, or must, require vaccinations for their workers. This decision for many will rest on an analysis of whether it is a ‘lawful and reasonable’ direction. ‘Reasonableness’ has a number of aspects to it and includes a risk-based assessment.

The Federal Government signalled, and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has now confirmed, that what might be ‘reasonable’ has shifted. Until yesterday, the FWO position was that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of employers should assume they were unable to require their employees to be vaccinated. This has been updated to guidance for four-tier work types and provides employers with specific factors to take into account when considering, on a case-by-case basis, whether vaccinations for employees can be mandated.

The work type tiers focus on levels of interaction between people in the workplace and the level of risk and consequences of infection. The scope of workplaces where mandatory vaccinations might be reasonable has clearly expanded. Given this analysis, it seems likely that the assessment of what is ‘reasonable’ will continue to shift in favour of more workplaces being able to adopt some level of mandatory vaccinations for workers.

As NSW moves into its eighth week of lockdown and Victoria tackles its sixth lockdown, as the supply of vaccinations becomes more plentiful and as governments encourage greater vaccination levels (including by requiring certain vaccination levels to lift lockdowns and potentially border closures), employers should be actively assessing what this means in their workplace.

The updated FWO guidance is available here.

Key contacts

Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
    You might also be interested in

    The Victorian Government has now imposed an industry-wide shutdown of the sector.

    22 September 2021

    On 16 September 2021, the Victorian Government announced a number of changes to the COVID-related restrictions that apply to individuals and businesses in the state.

    20 September 2021

    The High Court has injected certainty into the casual employment debate, and simplified the test considerably, by overturning the Federal Court in Rossato.

    05 August 2021

    The sole Australian based director of a retail over-the-counter derivative issuer, was recently found to have breached his duties under section 180(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

    29 June 2021

    Legal services for your business

    This site uses cookies to enhance your experience and to help us improve the site. Please see our Privacy Policy for further information. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive these cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

    For more information on which cookies we use then please refer to our Cookie Policy.