Following the announcement by Victoria’s Premier, on 7 October 2021 the Victorian Government published its COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions (Directions). The Directions impose significant obligations on employers regarding employees’ working locations depending on whether the worker is vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccination or not.
The Directions apply to employers, whether as a business that employs or engages a worker, or as a self-employed worker, of workers listed at Schedule 1 of the Directions. The list of employees is very broad, and includes (but is not limited to):
(a) emergency service workers, including police officer, fire fighters and paramedics;
(b) higher education workers, including a person who works at a university;
(c) manufacturing workers;
(d) professional sports persons; and
(e) professional services workers, including lawyers.
Under the Directions, an employer must collect, record and hold vaccination information of its workers if the worker is scheduled to work outside of their ordinary place of residence on or after 15 October 2021. An employer of a worker must also inform each current worker who is scheduled to work outside their ordinary place of residence that:
(a) the employer is required to collect, record and hold vaccination information about the worker; and
(b) the employer must not allow a worker who is unvaccinated to work outside of the workers ordinary place of residence (unless an exception applies).
However, an employer may permit a worker who is unvaccinated and has a booking to receive a dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by 22 October 2021 to work outside of the worker’s ordinary place of residence. However, a worker must:
(c) receive a first vaccination dose by 22 October 2021; and
(d) receive a second vaccination dose by 26 November 2021.
An employer is not required to collect, record and hold vaccination information, or not permit a worker to work outside of their ordinary place of residence in exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances are where:
(a) a worker is required to provide urgent specialist clinical or medical care due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance;
(b) a worker is required to fill a vacancy to provide urgent care, maintain quality of care and/or continue essential operations due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance;
(c) a worker is required to respond to an emergency; or
(d) a worker is required to perform urgent and essential work to protect the health and safety of workers or members of the public, or to protect assets and infrastructure.
If a person fails to comply with the Directions they may be subject to penalties of:
(a) for a natural person, approximately $21,800; and
(b) for a corporation, approximately $109,000.
Employers should seek advice when considering lawful and reasonable directions for vaccinations in the workplace. Our team of Workplace Relations lawyers are able to provide advice in relation to this article and other workplace matters.
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