The COVID-19 vaccine and work – your rights and obligations

Can your employer ask you to get the COVID-19 vaccine? What if you refuse? Or, if you’re an employer, can you insist staff get the vaccine?

As the vaccine rollout gains momentum, more and more employees and employers are needing to consider whether workers can be required to get vaccinated.

Some state governments have moved to mandate vaccination for specific classes of workers. In Queensland, hospital, health service, and ambulance workers are required to be vaccinated, and similar requirements are in place in Western Australia.

However, other state governments, such as Victoria, have remained silent on this issue. In the absence of such direction, the following factors should be taken into consideration:

  • Whether an enterprise agreement or employment contract mandates vaccination
  • Whether it would be lawful and reasonable for an employer to require their employees to be vaccinated

This second factor is highly subjective and should be considered in light of:

  • The risk profile of the workplace. (For example, high-density locations such as hospitals and high-risk environments such as meat processing facilities pose a greater risk than a socially distanced office space.)
  • Any medical, religious, or other grounds on which an employee might be unwilling or unable to get a vaccine

For enquires and expert advice on your rights and obligations; reach out to the Madison Marcus team.

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