As Australian workplaces adjust to the “new normal”, questions regarding the reasonableness of mandating staff COVID vaccination are being more frequently asked. As it stands, the State and Federal Government’s opinion is that vaccines are not considered a requirement “integral” to the completion of a person’s job, due to the suppression of community transmission in Australia. However, with the ongoing pattern of Melbourne outbreaks and considerations of compulsory vaccination for aged-care workers, recent cases heard by the courts reveal the gravitation towards the introduction of extra health measures to suppress COVID-19 and the flu being written into employment positions. The cases reveal that employers in vulnerable sectors, such as age, disability, and childcare should be confident that the introduction of non-invasive health measures (i.e., temperature checks) would be an acceptable direction, and any refusal would be reasonable grounds for dismissal. Mandatory flu – and perhaps in the future, COVID vaccinations may potentially be a reasonable and lawful direction in vulnerable sectors where it could be deemed as inherently required of the employee to carry out their job, so long as the policy considers any medical exemptions presented by employees.

Determining whether to implement further health requirements of your employees involves careful consideration of the type of work you provide, and how you must cater for those unable to get the jab. Contact Morgan + English for assistance.

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