Vaccine mandates in Australia should be decided by employers

Unions and employer groups have generally taken the stance in line with that of the government on vaccine mandates.
By: | August 20, 2021

This comes after a roundtable meeting with more than 50 leaders from unions, employer groups and government to discuss the vaccine roll out which was led by industrial relations minister Michaelia Cash. 

“The meeting was told that businesses seeking to mandate vaccinations should obtain legal advice to ensure any such decision was lawful and reasonable. It cemented the view for us that it would be employers who would need to decide if they were on secure legal ground to mandate in the absence of rare COVID vaccination health orders,” said Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox. 

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said a blanket regulation would lead to division and conflict within workplaces. Vaccines should not become a source of conflict in workplaces and community, she said. “The only way to beat this virus is with the vaccine, we need to do everything we can to get people vaccinated, and the best way to do that is by working together. Division will cost us time we do not have.” 

After the meeting, Minister Cash said, “It was clear from the discussion that participants are united in the goal to have as many Australians as possible vaccinated against COVID-19. The Australian government’s position of voluntary vaccination does not detract from individual employers seeking their own advice and mandating for their workforce if they have assessed that it is the right decision for them.” 

READ: Australia firms urged to stud impact of staff vaccination incentives

Participants of the roundtable included the deputy chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd; Sandra Parker of Fair Work Ombudsman; Angelene Falk of the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner; and Michelle Baxter, CEO of Safe Work Australia, according to The Australian.