As expected, following the Premier’s announcement on Friday 1 October regarding mandatory vaccination requirements for authorised workers, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new Direction from the Acting Chief Health Officer. The Directions commenced overnight (11.59pm) on 7 October and end at 11.59pm on 21 October 2021 (this is when the State of Emergency is currently noted as ending, but as it has previously, it could be extended).
The Directions apply to ‘workers’ as defined in the Directions and their employers. The Directions apply to the following workers:
- Accommodation workers;
- Agricultural and forestry workers;
- Airport workers;
- Ancillary, support and welfare workers;
- Authorised Officers;
- Care workers;
- Community workers;
- Creative arts workers;
- Custodial workers;
- Emergency service workers;
- Entertainment and function workers;
- Funeral workers;
- Higher education workers;
- Justice service centre workers;
- Manufacturing workers;
- Marriage celebrants;
- Meat and seafood processing workers;
- Media and film production workers;
- Mining workers;
- Physical recreation workers;
- Port or freight workers;
- Production and distribution workers;
- Professional sports, high-performance sports or racing persons;
- Professional service workers;
- Public sector employees;
- Real estate workers;
- Religious workers;
- Repair and maintenance workers;
- Retail workers;
- Science and technology workers;
- Social and community service workers;
- Transport workers;
- Utility and urban workers; and
- Veterinary and pet/animal care workers
Under the Directions, employers of the above workers are required to:
- Collect, record and hold vaccination information as soon as practicable after the commencement of the directions (7 October) and before the date the mandatory vaccination requirements are imposed (15 October 2021); and
- Ensure unvaccinated workers do not work outside their ordinary place of residence
Vaccination information is information about a person’s vaccination status and includes information derived from a record of information that was made under or in accordance with the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015.
The Directions note the relevant date to be 15 October, the first dose deadline to be 22 October 2021 and the second dose deadline to be 26 November 2021.
For clarity, a person is either:
- fully vaccinated – received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine;
- partially vaccinated – received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine;
- unvaccinated – has not received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and is not an excepted person; or
- an excepted person – hold a certificate from a medical practitioner that they are unable to receive a dose due to a medical contraindication or an acute medical illness.
Employers must not permit a worker who is unvaccinated to work outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence on or after 15 October. If employers do not have vaccination information about a worker, the worker is to be treated as if they are unvaccinated.
- Exceptions apply for workers who are unvaccinated but have a booking to receive the COVID vaccine by the first dose deadline. Exceptions also apply if the worker is unvaccinated and was unable to become partially vaccinated before the first dose deadline because they were in self-quarantine under the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions and they have a booking to receive within 7 days of the end of the self-quarantine period, a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Directions also impose an obligation on employers to (as soon as reasonably practicable) inform each worker who is or may be scheduled to work outside their ordinary place of residence after 15 October that they are obliged to collect, record and hold employees vaccination information. Employers must also inform each worker that on or after 15 October they are obliged not to permit a worker who is unvaccinated to work outside of their ordinary place of residence unless an exemption applies.
It is important to note that 120 penalty units apply to natural persons who refuse or fail to comply with the directions and contravention for a body corporate attracts 600 penalty units.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Chris, Simon and Naomi