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Implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy

By Beatrice Thomas

The COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for the majority of WA’s workforce — more than 1 million workers. 

To ensure your business is compliant with government directions, occupational health and safety obligations and workplace laws, the best place to start is a workplace vaccination policy. 

Here's what you need to know:

The State Government’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is being rolled out in a phased approach to most occupations and workforces within WA.

Under the health directions, staff must provide evidence of vaccination to employers, who need to maintain these records. 

Penalties for non-compliance are up to $100,000 for employers and up to $20,000 for individual employees. 

Workplace vaccination considerations

In making decisions around the workplace and vaccinationsCCIWA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Guide recommends employers should consider the following:  

  • Audit your vaccination needs and whether they differ across your business. Also consider whether to extend any vaccine policy to cover other visitors to your workplace such as volunteers, visitors, contractors, students etc. 
  • Develop a system for internal communications about vaccinations.
  • Review your policies to assess whether changes are needed to better manage ongoing issues and to proactively address issues the business may face in the future.
  • Review employment contracts for relevant clauses (e.g. inserting clauses that make employment conditional on having required vaccinations for new employees) and, if appropriate, consider whether you should attempt to agree variations with existing employees. 
  • Consider the overall risks to health and safety and whether COVID-19 transmission can be managed through encouraging employees to obtain vaccinations rather than mandating them. 
  • What practical and proactive steps can you take now to get "ahead" of the issues as much as possible.  

Learn more: Responding to COVID-19

Implementing a vaccination policy

If you've decided to implement a workplace policy around COVID-19 vaccinations, make sure you consider the matters below.

Even if you decide not to mandate the vaccine in your workplace, it’s still prudent to ensure you have a vaccine policy that clearly articulates how you will deal with relevant issues as they arise in your workplace.

1. Comply with Work Health and Safety consultation obligations
If you’re considering introducing a vaccination policy in your workplace, you must consult with your employees and any safety and health representatives (if your workplace has one). You must also ensure that any required vaccination program is lawful and reasonable for the specific circumstances of your workplace. 

In conducting consultations, you must give your workers an opportunity to express their views and raise any concerns so that they contribute to the decision-making process relating to the introduction of the policy. You must take the employees' views into account before finalising any policy. 

Consultation must occur using the established consultation procedures at your workplace. Otherwise, consultation may occur broadly, for example, through staff messaging or more directly, through small group discussions, depending on the size and nature of your business. 

If workers are represented by a work health and safety representative, the consultation must involve that representative. 

2. Comply with consultation obligations for awards, EAs and contracts
Employers should review any applicable modern awards, enterprise agreements or contractual obligations to ensure that they fulfil any obligations under these documents to consult employees. Consultation should be genuine and not perfunctory. 
3. Determine a process for managing refusals
Consider the likelihood of employees refusing vaccination and the process you will take to respond to this, e.g. including discrimination considerations and assessing the potential impact on an employee’s ability to carry out the key requirements of their role. 

In general, we recommend considering a system that acknowledges specific exemptions from vaccination and sets out evidence requirements (e.g. persons claiming medical conditions may need to provide a medical certificate supporting that). 

In all communications regarding the vaccination policy, employers should also make sure to clearly outline any potential consequences of workers refusing to comply with the policy. 

4. Manage recordkeeping and privacy
You will need to consider your privacy policy as well as the Privacy Act in relation to vaccinations, including how you will handle any collection, use or disclosure.
5. Offer information on vaccinations
Where you’re implementing a requirement to be vaccinated as a safety control measure due to the outcomes of your risk assessment, your vaccination policy should then include information and guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine.

This should include government information on what the vaccines are and how they work. 

For general advice on your individual situation call CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or via advice@cciwa.com. 

For legal advice specific to your situation, contact our team of Workplace Relations lawyers on (08) 9365 7746 or via BusinessLawWA@cciwa.com. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for the majority of WA’s workforce — more than 1 million workers. 

To ensure your business is compliant with government directions, occupational health and safety obligations and workplace laws, the best place to start is a workplace vaccination policy. 

Here's what you need to know:

The State Government’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is being rolled out in a phased approach to most occupations and workforces within WA.

Under the health directions, staff must provide evidence of vaccination to employers, who need to maintain these records. 

Penalties for non-compliance are up to $100,000 for employers and up to $20,000 for individual employees. 

Workplace vaccination considerations

In making decisions around the workplace and vaccinationsCCIWA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Guide recommends employers should consider the following:  
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