Employers to exercise discretion on mandating vaccination: Australian PM

The country will not enact special laws to mandate vaccination, but employers can make inoculation compulsory in high-risk environments.
By: | August 10, 2021

Prime minister Scott Morrison has said that federal and state governments will not create blanket labour laws to make vaccination mandatory. Instead, employers would need to work within the existing legal framework and public health directions to decide whether or not to enforce vaccinations. 

He said, “We do not have a mandatory vaccination policy in this country…We’re not proposing to have that. That is not changing. But an employer may make a reasonable directive to staff and if they do so, they will have to stay consistent with the law and particularly in dealing with a situation where an employee may be in direct contact, potentially become infected and acquire the virus.” 

Currently, public health directives explicitly mandate vaccination for staff working in some high-risk environments, including healthcare, working with vulnerable people, hotel quarantine, in a frontline service, or airlines when staff could come into close contact with people infected with the virus. 

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In all other sectors, employers will have to make their own decisions on the issue, working within workplace laws, which include “reasonable” directions to staff. This implies that employers wishing to have vaccine mandates may face legal challenges based on discrimination over vaccination status. 

Canned-goods giant SPC has announced that it would make vaccination compulsory for its staff, while Qantas has indicated it is considering doing the same, according to The Guardian.