Can an Employer direct an employee to have a 19 Vaccination against COVID 19?

Posted By Chris Delaney / Uncategorised / No Comments

The Commonwealth Government has announced the commencement of the COVID 19 Vaccination rollout across the country. Some members of the community will line up willingly and some will not.

As there are no new laws or public health orders, employers will not have the right to direct employees to have the COVID-19 vaccination or for that matter the Flu vaccination.

Employers should communicate with employees that they strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated when it becomes available to them. They should also state that any employee with issues or concerns should discuss these with a nominated person (e.g. manager) in the organisation.

Employers should also encourage employees to consult with a qualified medical professional to assist with making an informed decision.

Although an employer may take disciplinary action up to and including dismissal should an employee refuse to follow a lawful and reasonable direction, there will be few situations to support such actions for refusal to be vaccinated.

Standing down employees who refuse to have the vaccination or refuse to work alongside an employee who has not been vaccinated is not an available remedy.

Before an employer makes a decision to direct employees to be vaccinated they should consider carefully the grounds on which they will rely for giving the direction.

  • Does the employee work with people who would be vulnerable to severe disease if they contract COVID-19?
  • Does the employee work in high-risk areas e.g. Hotel quarantine?
  • Is the vaccination essential for the performance of the work?
  • Is there a genuine reason why the employee refuses to have the vaccination?
  • How will the refusal affect the work, health and safety responsibilities of the employer?
  • Are there opportunities to redeploy the employee to alleviate safety issues?

An employee may be dismissed for refusal to follow a lawful and reasonable direction, however an employer may also be expected to prove that the direction was lawful and reasonable or the dismissal may be deemed unfair.

It should be remembered that the COVID 19 Vaccination is only one of the control measures employers should have already implemented to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

For more information contact the Workplace Relations Speicalists


Leave a Comment