Some employers may choose to mandate that their employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. In such cases, employees may have certain rights under Australian law.
We answer some common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and associated lawsuits, as well as which workplaces a mandatory vaccine is reasonable. Learn about if forced vaccines by employers are lawful and your rights and legal options regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The Federal Government’s policy is that COVID-19 vaccinations should be free and voluntary for most Australians, and it does not intend on passing any laws that require vaccinations to be mandatory. It has recommended through National Cabinet that State and Territory governments mandate vaccinations for certain workers.
State and Territory Governments have issued public health orders requiring the vaccination of some workers in high risk workplaces.
Not all public health orders will be the same in each State and Territory, and may change from time to time. It is important to review the public health orders that apply to each State and Territory.
To access the current public health orders in your State and Territory, please visit your relevant government health website.
In the absence of Government mandates whether an employer can direct an employee to get vaccinated will depend on whether the direction is a “lawful and reasonable direction”. Determining if an employer direction is lawful and reasonable will depend on a number of different factors.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has provided advice on a range of factors employers should consider in determining whether a direction mandating the vaccination is lawful and reasonable.
To review the FWO’s guidance, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.
It’s important to remember that the FWO’s guidance is not law.
Determining whether a direction is lawful and reasonable is assessed on a case to case basis.
The FWO has highlighted that some considerations in assessing whether an employer direction is lawful include:
Some considerations in assessing whether your employer's decision to mandate the COVID vaccine is reasonable include:
Employees concerned about any employer directions on vaccines should get advice from their union or an employment lawyer. Similarly, employers should seek their own advice if they are considering making vaccinations mandatory in the workplace.
While the laws in each State and Territory differ slightly, the answer to this is probably yes.
During the COVID crisis, the Fair Work Commission introduced new rules which specified that workers and union representatives need to be consulted about new workplace health and safety measures such as vaccines.
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