Australia proposes four-tier system for vaccination

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has proposed a system to determine whether mandatory vaccination for employees would be considered reasonable.
By: | August 17, 2021

To assess if a direction to inoculate was reasonable, employers should consider the following factors: the nature of the workplace, community transmission, the effectiveness of vaccines, employers’ circumstances, employees’ reasons for refusing, and vaccine availability, said Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

FWO said it would be “more likely” for vaccination to be required as reasonable for tier-1 work – where staff are in contact with people at risk from COVID-19, such as airline workers, and in tier-2 work – where they work with vulnerable people, such as aged care. 

In tier-3 work, where there is interaction with the public, employers may require their staff to be vaccinated, but this is more likely if there is community transmission. 

For tier-4 work – where face-to-face interaction is minimal – it is unlikely that employers would be allowed to direct their staff to be vaccinated. 

The FWO’s updated advice urged employers to “exercise caution if they’re considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in their workplace and get their own legal advice”, noting that legality will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

READ: Australian companies allowed to collect workers’ vaccination status

FWO’s updated advice came as the assistant attorney general, Amanda Stoker, urged “ordinary” employers not to require staff to be vaccinated. Stoker had said that she did not think businesses had a right to demand their staff get vaccinated because “in general it needs to be the case that people are making a decision for themselves … This should be voluntary. The individual has the right to choose what works for them”, according to The Guardian.