In brief 2 min read
The Victorian Government has implemented a broad-reaching mandatory vaccination requirement for workers as part of its plan to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions (Directions), a significant number of Victorian workers must be vaccinated in order to work away from home from 22 October 2021.
The Directions apply to workers (including contractors) in a broad range of industries and impose several obligations on employers.
From 15 October 2021, employers must ensure that any such worker who is, or may be, scheduled to work outside their home must be:
- at least partially vaccinated or have a booking to receive their first dose by 22 October; and
- fully vaccinated by 26 November.
Limited exemptions apply, including that the worker:
- has a recognised medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines;
- has an acute medical illness, including a COVID-19 diagnosis;
- was unable to receive their first dose by 22 October due to a requirement to self-quarantine and has a booking to receive their first dose within seven days of the end of their self-quarantine period; or
- is required to perform urgent medical care work or essential work to protect assets and infrastructure, or to fill a vacancy in essential operations due to an emergency situation.
The Directions impose a broader obligation than simply not permitting entry to the employer's own premises. Employers are required to ensure that an unvaccinated worker does not work onsite, at the work premises of their clients or business partners, or at any other location except their home.
In contrast, New South Wales public health orders currently only mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in specific industries, such as construction, education and aged care. Under directions due to take effect on 11 October, employers in New South Wales must require workers who are unvaccinated to work from home, unless it is not reasonably practicable for them to do so.
To meet the mandatory vaccination worker restrictions set out above, the Victorian Directions require that employers collect, record and store information about the employee's vaccination status (ie whether the employee is fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, and the date of their vaccination appointment). Employers must collect this information for any employee who is, or may be, working onsite or from any location outside their home on or after 15 October. Evidence of vaccination status can be:
- an immunisation certificate;
- an immunisation history statement; or
- a letter from a medical practitioner.
Significant penalties apply to contraventions of the Directions. For example, employers that allow unvaccinated workers onsite to work can be fined up to $109,044.