With company mandate and incentive schemes ramping up around the country, many business leaders are grappling with how to manage their workforces in a COVID-19 impacted world.
Earlier this month, Victorian fruit and vegetable processor SPC became the first Australian company to mandate vaccines for all onsite staff and visitors. Qantas has since followed suit, requiring all of its employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Announcing the mandate, Qantas boss Alan Joyce said staff who decide against COVID-19 vaccination will make a conscious choice that “aviation is not the area for them”.
The airline’s decision – taken after a survey of 12,000 staff showed most backed the measure – made it the first prominent ASX-listed company to mandate double-jabs for workers and some workplace experts believe the airline’s no-jab, no-job policy could embolden other companies considering a mandate.
Company-mandated vaccines are becoming increasingly common in the US with Microsoft, Google Washington, BlackRock and Delta airlines amongst those requiring staff to have the jab. However, until now in Australia all vaccine mandates for workforces such as the aged care and health care sectors have been made by governments under public health orders.
Last week the Fair Work Ombudsman issued fresh advice for employers considering making the COVID vaccine mandatory for workers, setting out a four-tier system to determine when such an order would be reasonable.
So what should businesses and boards thinking about introducing a mandate need to consider, and what are the legal implications and rights around enforcing jabs for employees?
WOB Partner, advisory firm Grant Thornton recently held a webinar on vaccinations and workforce management in conjunction with Minter Ellison and Respond Global bringing together an emergency health expert and employment lawyer, as well as business leaders. The webinar - Vaccinations and Workforce Management: COVID Considerations is now available to watch online.
They have also produced a Checklist for businesses, available to download, which includes a list of questions you can be asking your business now to see what you can reasonably expect of your people, what role your business can play in Australia’s vaccination roll-out and how you can plan now.
The webinar looks at a decision support tool that has been developed as a way to start conversations and initiate plans in your business. Questions include: What can we reasonably expect of our people? What role can employers play to ensure business continuity? What strategies – like rapid testing – can we consider?
Experts also discuss what rights employers and employees have, and what legally can and can’t be requested from both sides when it comes to health decisions.
The webinar is facilitated by Grant Thornton’s Kristy Fotiadis and guest speakers include Grant Thornton CEO Greg Keith, who shares share his insights as leader of a national professional services firm with offices in six geographies, in five states (and five premiers) – each with differing approaches to battling COVID-19. Other guest speakers are specialist emergency physician Dr Ian Norton, Founder and Managing Director of Respond Global and employment lawyer Gordon Willams.
Access the Grant Thornton Vaccinations and Workforce Management: COVID Considerations webinar HERE.
Download the Grant Thornton Vaccinations and workforce management: Questions to ask your business checklist HERE