Like many small business owners, you’ve worked hard to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 exposure at your workplace while still fulfilling your WHS obligations.
Here are five things to keep in mind about WHS responsibilities and COVID-19 vaccines:
A COVID-19 vaccine will be available in phases and is voluntary.
The Australian government is committed to providing free, secure, and reliable COVID-19 vaccines to all Australians. It is entirely up to you whether or not to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines will be made available in Australia in stages, beginning with the elderly and high-risk sectors. More information about COVID-19 vaccines and the launch can be obtained from the Department of Health.
Continue to do whatever you can to stop COVID-19 from spreading.
A vaccine is just one component of keeping Australians healthy. Physical distancing, good hygiene, routine maintenance and cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment are all things you can continue to do in your workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Continue to ensure that the employees do not come to work while they are sick. You and your company must also agree to follow any public health directives that refer to you.
Most small businesses would not need to require employees to be vaccinated in order to comply with their WHS obligations.
It is unlikely that requiring employees to be vaccinated would be feasible for most small businesses. If you’re uncertain, contact the WHS regulator, workplace organization, or another legal service. Do not impose a mandatory vaccination program without first consulting the employees and getting their input.
Talk with your coworkers
It’s possible that you and your colleagues have concerns about the vaccines. The best sources for reliable and up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines are official government sources such as the Department of Health. Before making any WHS adjustments in your workplace, remember to meet with your employees and their health and safety representatives.
WHS isn’t the only thing you should be informed of.
Other laws, such as employment relations, anti-discrimination, and privacy laws, may give you rights and obligations in relation to COVID-19 vaccines. If you’re unsure, ask for help. Connect to your WHS regulator, the Fair Work Ombudsman, the employer organization, or another legal service for advice about what to do if a worker is not vaccinated, for example.