Can Employers Require Employees to Get a COVID-19 Vaccination?

After the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, employers are now wondering whether they have the right only to employ or keep employees who’ve received the vaccination developed in 2021. At this time, no government regulations are stating Australian employers have contractual rights to refuse employment of the unvaccinated. However, it is up to employers to make their own decisions only if it qualifies as reasonable and lawful.

Whether it is to demand an employee to be vaccinated depends on the industry in which the employee works and the specific job title of the employee. In most cases, it is not a reasonable and lawful direction, but as stated, the employer has the freedom to make their determinations. This means an employer can take action for non-compliance, including termination.

Government Regulations in Australia
Recently, the number of employers requiring employees to be vaccinated has increased significantly. The shift in these decisions ultimately began when the new Delta Variant was discovered, causing another spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. However, there is still yet to be a federal regulation stating that vaccination is mandatory.

Employers must remember any rights the employee has to unfair dismissal, discrimination, or adverse action remedy under Australian law.

Employer Options
For now, it is recommended that employers stick with merely encouraging employees to be vaccinated through special programs and easily accessible vaccination sites. If you’re in support of required vaccinations, the best you can do is suggest it. If you’re not in support of necessary vaccinations, you’re free to employ anyone unless it becomes a Federal mandate in the future. Employers can support their employees with the following suggestions:

  • Providing leave for employees to get vaccinated
  • Ensuring employees have access to reliable information about the effectiveness of vaccinations.
  • If employees choose not to be vaccinated or are in a location where the vaccine is unavailable, try exploring other options that provide alternative arrangements.

Research carried out in June before Sydney’s latest outbreak found that of the 1,039 workers surveyed in Australia, 62% support compulsory vaccinations. These statistics may incline an upcoming mandate, but in the meantime, it is highly recommended to stay wary of the rights of employees upon your decision.

NSW health has recently allowed service station employees to receive priority for vaccines in certain local government areas.

We are here to help
If you’re unsure about the rights of you or your employees in regards to vaccinations, ServoPro can provide advice and information on workplace health and safety. Our members turn to us for suggestions on how to remain legally compliant and avoid penalties surrounding your preference as to whether vaccinations are required at your place of business. Contact our team today for more information.

Scroll to Top