COVID-19 Retailer Resource Hub

Vaccination news & advice for retailers

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Vaccination news

NEW SOUTH WALES NEWS

Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021

This Order, as currently drafted, requires non-critical retail premises to take reasonable steps to ensure that an unvaccinated adult is not on the premises.

We note the following key points:

  • an ‘unvaccinated adult’ is a person more than 16 years of age who is not a fully vaccinated person;
  • the term ‘unvaccinated adult’ encompasses both workers and customers; and
  • a ‘fully vaccinated person’  is a person who has had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or a person who has a medical contraindication certificate. However, we note that the NSW government has announced that vaccination requirements will be changed to a single dose requirement for regional areas.

The operator of a premises subject to this Order will need to take reasonable steps to ascertain the vaccination status of customers. The NSW Government has prepared guidance on the types of evidence that may be accepted which can be found HERE.

Operators should be aware that where a customer attends the premises for the purpose of purchasing food or beverages to be consumed off the premises or to use a click and collect service they will not be required to provide proof of vaccination.

We note that the above requirements may be subject to change as the NSW Government continues to consult with the community.

REGIONAL NSW WORKERS CAN RETURN TO WORK WITH ONE VACCINATION DOSE

Workers in regional areas who have received one vaccination dose will be permitted to return to their workplace from 11 October 2021 and will be given a grace period until 1 November 2021 to receive their second dose.

*Regional areas are those outside Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Central Coast.

GREATER SYDNEY WORKERS MUST BE FULLY VACCINATED BY 11 OCTOBER

If you live in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Shellharbour and Wollongong Local Government Areas, you must be fully vaccinated from 11 October 2021 to return to certain workplaces as outlined on the NSW Government website HERE

UPDATED VACCINATION INFORMATION FOR INDUSTRY & BUSINESSES

Industry and businesses are responsible for keeping their premises safe and minimise the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. Businesses will need to:

  • Take reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people entering your premises. For example, having prominent signs stating requirements, Service NSW QR codes, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of evidence of vaccination, or medical exemption.
  • If a staff member tests positive, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, 14 days self-isolation is required and NSW Health will follow up. Businesses will refer to their COVID-19 Safety Plan and risk assessment approach for further instructions on notifying other staff.

To support and guide businesses and industry in becoming COVID Safe and operational at 70% double vaccination, the following ‘need to know’ resources are available below. 

VICTORIA NEWS

PRESCRIBED WORKERS REQUIRED TO BE VACCINATED

From 15 October 2021, in order to work onsite at a work premises, prescribed workers, including retail workers, must be able to provide evidence to their employer that they have:

  • received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • have a booking to receive their first dose by 22 October 2021, or
  • have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner.

Employers must:

  • as soon as reasonably practicable, inform existing employees of the requirement under the health order to collect, record and hold the vaccination information of workers
  • as soon as reasonably practicable, collect, record and hold vaccination information about workers.

From 26 November 2021, they will also be required to provide evidence to their employer that they have received their second dose (unless they have a medical exemption) to attend work.

Victorian Acting Chief Health Officer, Benjamin Cowie, has given the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions that commenced at 11:59pm on 7 October 2021 and end at 11:59pm on 21 October 2021. View the full document below. 

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY NEWS

ACT WILL NOT REQUIRE PROOF OF VACCINATION STATUS FOR RETAIL

The ACT Government will not require proof of vaccination status to access public settings, or private businesses other than particular high-risk settings identified by the ACT Chief Health Officer (this will not include retail). The ACT Government has stated that it is the role of the business owner to stay informed and undertake risk-based assessments for the safety of employees, customers and others.

The ACT Government guidance goes further to note that subject to any risk assessment and the requirements of anti-discrimination laws, including the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT), and, where applicable, the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT), controls may include exercising their existing right to impose, as a condition of entry, a requirement that persons attending the premises have received an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

NORTHERN TERRITORY NEWS

VACCINATION MANDATES FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS

COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for many workers by the end of the year to protect the community as we move towards COVID-safe freedoms. 

The Chief Health Officer Direction will make it mandatory for certain workers to have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 12 November 2021 to continue working in the same role.

Those workers must be fully vaccinated by 24 December 2021.

Workers who are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine are:

  • Workers who come into direct contact with people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID, including Aboriginal people and people who cannot be vaccinated due to age or a medical condition;
  • Workers who are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because they work in a high-risk setting where there is a known risk of COVID-19 transmission or outbreak; and
  • Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential good security or supply, or logistics in the Territory.

Relevant employees who are not vaccinated by 13 November 2021 will not be permitted to attend their workplace, and will face a $5,000 fine if they do not comply with the Chief Health Officer Direction.

The Direction allows employers to request proof of vaccination, and requires them to keep a register of staff showing their vaccination status. It also acknowledges that a booster will be required for workers in 2022 and that the Direction will be amended to mandate the booster when it becomes available. 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA NEWS

MANDATORY VACCINATION DEADLINE FOR WA WORKFORCES

Premier Mark McGowan has announced a phased approach that will see two groups of workforces subject to mandatory vaccination by certain dates, with a third group required to be vaccinated in the event of a lockdown. 

GROUP 1

First dose by 1 December 2021 and fully vaccinated by 31 December 2021:

  • Industries determined to have high transmission risk, or are a vulnerability risk or are necessary or critical to the safety of the community. For further information on the list, click HERE.

GROUP 2

First dose by 31 December 2021 and fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022:

  • Industries and workforce deemed critical to ongoing delivery of business and the function of the community, including but not limited to:
    • Supermarkets, grocery and bakery
    • Restaurant, pub, bar or café
    • Post office
    • Hardware stores
    • Petrol station, truck stops and roadhouses
    • Hotel, motel or other accommodation
  • This requirement will be put in place to ensure the continuity of key services and businesses in the event of expected community transmission. For further information on the list, click HERE.

LOCKDOWN

Must be fully vaccinated to attend work during a lockdown or similar restrictions:

  • These critical workers must be fully vaccinated to leave home to attend work, to decrease transmission risk and prevent impact on the delivery of services. These workers include but are not limited to:
    • Other click and collect retail
    • Bottle shop
    • Newsagents
    • Pet stores
    • Wholesalers

Workplace COVID-19 vaccinations

Employers may contemplate introducing a mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 requirement for its employees where:

  • vaccination is required by a specific law (such as a public health order or directive);
  • vaccination is required under a contract of employment; or
  • where it would be lawful and reasonable for an employer to direct employees to be vaccinated.

Prior to the introduction of mandatory vaccination in the workplace employers should obtain legal advice in respect of the risks.

Vaccinations feature image_02-min

If you are considering implementing a mandatory vaccination policy or directive, but want to better understand your obligations and risks as an employer, contact NRA Legal on 1800 572 679.

COVID-19 vaccinations: workplace rights and obligations

The latest advice and answers to frequently asked questions from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Is a direction to get a vaccination likely to be lawful and reasonable?

Broadly, unless a specific health order or directive requires vaccination, employers will be relying on an argument that a direction to be vaccinated is ‘lawful and reasonable’ if they are looking to implement a mandatory vaccination policy.

Whether or not a direction to be vaccinated is ‘lawful and reasonable’ will depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • the nature of the employee’s role and the work being performed;
  • the industry in which the employer operates;
  • the public health environment, including the extent of community transmission where the direction is to be given;
  • an employer’s work health and safety obligations;
  • vaccine availability; and
  • the extent of in-person public interaction between the employee’s duties and the possibility of social distancing; and
  • each employee’s individual circumstances.

I want to introduce a mandatory vaccination policy, what now?

In circumstances where a state or territory’s public health order requires staff to be vaccinated, a direction that employees vaccinate against COVID-19 is likely a reasonably practicable step that employers must consider in line with their responsibilities under work health and safety laws.

However, in circumstances where there is no clear government requirement to mandate vaccination, many employers are increasingly struggling to balance their work health and safety obligations against their privacy, and other obligations toward staff. Importantly, employers must continue to have regard for reasonably practicable steps they can take to discharge their obligations under Work health and safety laws and whether that includes mandatory vaccination, will depend on the circumstances of each business.

This is a rapidly developing space, there are several key risks and other factors that employers should be aware of, before seeking to mandate vaccines for their staff. They include, but are not limited to:

  • a need to ensure compliance with Australian privacy laws. For example, the Australian Privacy Act (1988) (Cth) provides for 13 privacy principles that regulate the way some employers must deal with, collect, store, or use ‘private’ information such as vaccination records. Civil and criminal penalties may apply for any breaches;
  • a need to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit employers from treating employees with protected attributes (such as age, disability, pregnancy, etc) differently based on their protected attributes;
  • a need to ensure appropriate consultation with workforces prior to implementing the vaccine, as required under various industrial instruments and work health and safety legislation. Any failure to consult with workers could present legal risk and impact the prospect of success of future legal proceedings, including dismissal claims arising from a failure to comply with the policy; and
  • a need to ensure appropriate measures are in place for dealing with refusals, exemptions, changes in government directives, changes in the availability of vaccines, or a dispute being bought by an employee.

Employers who mandate vaccination but who are not prepared to address or respond to the above issues relatively quickly, may find themselves in a battle with unions, employees, or regulatory bodies.

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