The Victorian Government has recently released the updated Pandemic (Workplace) Order 2022 (No. 9) (Order), which took effect 11:59pm on 24 June 2022. A copy of the Order can be found here.
Importantly, the Order lifts the requirement for many Victorian workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work outside their homes.
Who is still required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work outside of their home?
The Order requires that adult ‘Specified Workers’ and ‘Facility Workers’ must have three doses of the COVID-19 vaccination to work outside their homes.
Specified Workers and Facility Workers under 18 years of age must be double vaccinated.
Specified Workers and Facility Workers include the following workers who interact with vulnerable members of the community:
- Disability workers
- Custodial workers
- Emergency services workers
- Health care workers
- Residential aged care facility workers
- Specialist education workers
Workers in all other industries and professions are no longer required to have received any COVID-19 vaccinations in order to work outside of their homes.
There are limited exemptions to the vaccination requirements in the Order, including where a Specified Worker or Facility Worker has contracted COVID-19 in the previous 4 months and for recent international arrivals.
What does this mean for employers?
For employers not covered by the Order, it is open to them to set their own vaccination requirements in the workplace.
It is important to bear in mind that all employers have occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and visitors to the workplace. A measure to meet this OHS obligation may be to implement COVID-19 vaccination requirements within the workplace, provided it is lawful and reasonable in the circumstances.
Further, before an employer can implement mandatory vaccination requirements, including through a policy, it must comply with any consultation and other obligations under relevant OHS laws or industrial instruments (enterprise agreements, employment contracts etc).
The benefits of having a vaccination policy within the workplace can include:
- Assisting employers with complying with their obligations under OHS legislation;
- Providing reassurance to employees that the employer has taken steps to ensure the workplace is safe and without risks to health;
- Reducing absenteeism by limiting the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace;
- Providing clarity about the workplace’s expectations in the absence of government mandates.
If your workplace requires advice on the implications of the new Order or would like to discuss introducing a mandatory vaccination policy, please get in touch with the HR Legal team.