The minefield of mandatory vaccinations

Oct 8, 2021

Directions regarding mandatory vaccinations

Directions around the Victorian government’s expansion of the mandatory vaccinations were made on 7 October 2021. The Directions, which previously covered cover health care, construction and teachers, have been expanded.

The Directions apply to all workers in Melbourne and regional Victoria who perform work outside their place of residence.

Here are the key points:

Relevant dates

Employers must, as soon as reasonably practicable, collect, record and hold vaccination information about employees.

If a worker is unvaccinated, the employer must collect, record and hold information about whether that worker has a booking to receive a first vaccination prior to 15 October 2021.

If an employee is partially vaccinated, the employer must also collect information about whether that employee has a booking to receive a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine prior to 26 November 2021.

Employer responsibility

Employers must, as soon as practicable, inform each worker scheduled to work away from their residence that the employer is obliged to collect, record and hold vaccination information about the worker and not permit an unvaccinated worker to work outside their place of residence unless an exception applies.

From 15 October 2021, employers who are Authorised Providers must not permit an unvaccinated worker to work for that employer outside the worker’s residence.

Where vaccination status is not disclosed, the employer must treat the worker as unvaccinated.

Exceptions apply to workers who have a booking to receive a vaccination by 22 October 2021.

Who does this apply to?

The Directions apply to workers including those involved in manufacturing, meat and seafood processing, mining, professional sports, professional services including lawyers and financial services, real estate, repair and maintenance, retail, and transport.

A full list of workers is set out in the Directions, which can be accessed here.

Who is required to be vaccinated?

Workers must be vaccinated to attend their workplace and must carry an Authorised Worker Permit, a requirement of which includes being vaccinated.

Can I require my employees and people entering my place of work to be vaccinated?

Employers must require their workers who must perform work away from their place of residence to be partially vaccinated from 15 October 2021 and fully vaccinated by 26 November 2021.

What about people who refuse to be vaccinated?

Employees, workers, directors and officeholders who refuse to be vaccinated will not be able to attend the workplace or perform work outside their place of residence from 15 October 2021.

What are the consequences?

Workers who attend a workplace without a valid permit (which requires confirmation of vaccination) can face fines, as can the employer.

Courts can impose penalties of up to $21,808 on individuals and $109,044 on businesses who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet permit requirements (including vaccination status).

Other points to note

Employers should also be aware of their obligations when collecting, using, storing and disclosing employee health information, including vaccination status, as regulated by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

As this is a rapidly evolving space, it is important that you continue to check the up to date requirements.

The current Directions will end at 11:59pm on 21 October 2021.