Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it clear in a statement last week that there will be no federal policy that requires COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory. Inoculation is purely voluntary, but employers do have the option of requiring the jab for high-risk workers.
Morrison explains that companies have the discretion to make the vaccine mandatory for their employees if they see a valid reason to do so and as long as their issued directive is not in violation of the discrimination law.
SPC, Australia’s leading producer of canned fruit, has already made an announcement that by the end of November, all unvaccinated employees will not be allowed to continue working for the company. Australia’s biggest airline, Qantas Airways, has also declared the possibility of requiring their employees to get the vaccine.
Last Friday, a national cabinet meeting was held in Canberra, where the vaccination policy was one of the major topics. In a press interview after the meeting, the prime minister clarified to reporters that Australia currently has no mandatory policy for COVID-19 vaccination or any other kind of vaccination.
There are different circumstances for each workplace, and employers are strongly encouraged to take their own particular situation into consideration in making the right decision. If the nature of their job puts the workers at a high risk of exposure to the virus, then it would be within reason for the employer to uphold their obligations for the employees’ occupational health and safety by requiring the vaccine.
According to Morrison, a company’s decision for mandatory vaccination may be appropriate for airline workers, senior care providers, retail store workers and other employees whose job keeps them in close proximity to potential carriers of the virus.