The Union supports COVID vaccination, a position that we have held since earlier this year when various vaccinations were approved for use. As a Union firstly, we support science and the science that stands behind the vaccines, and secondly, we support that vaccinations will make our workplaces safer. For these reasons the Union strongly encourages members to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
We continue to witness misinformation being spread about the COVID-19 vaccines, their efficacy and safety.
Importantly, this week we reached the intersection between COVID misinformation and the Chief Health Officer’s mandatory vaccination directives, which potentially creates serious risk for a member who relies on such information to refuse a vaccination. Health sector employers either have, or shortly will, advise members of the requirement to be vaccinated against COVID to continue access to the workplace.
On 29 September the Chief Health Officer (CHO), issued mandatory vaccination directives requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated in order to continue working in the Victorian healthcare system. Members will need to have had at least one dose of any of the available vaccines by 15 October.
The issue of what action can be taken against a healthcare worker who refuses to be vaccinated is obviously critically important. In the first instance the CHO directions requires an employer to deny entry of an unvaccinated healthcare worker into the workplace. although a continued refusal to be vaccinated will likely result in termination of employment.
The only workers exempted from mandatory vaccination are those with medical contraindication to a vaccination.
We will distribute more detailed advice in relation to circumstances where action is taken against a healthcare worker for refusing to comply with the CHO directions shortly. It is however important to note that a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission this week ruled that an employer that terminated the employment of an employee in an aged care facility in NSW after she refused to be vaccinated did not act unfairly or unreasonably. This sets a strong precedent in relation to the rights and obligations of workers and employers in the context of mandatory vaccinations.
While each case will be judged on its individual merits, it is clear to the Union that in the absence of a medical exemption in the form of certification from a medical practitioner, healthcare workers will be required to be vaccinated. We are monitoring the development of various matters regarding the requirements to be vaccinated and will provide members with more information.
There are special leave provisions available to help you get the COVID-19 vaccine. This special leave was won because Victorian unions, including us, fought hard for it to ensure that you can get the vaccine. There are details about the special leave provisions in the Union Round Up.
There are a lot of excellent resources available to answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. The Australian Academy of Science has some great resources, which you can access and share with your family and friends. You can find those resources here.
We know that without you working, Victorians won’t be able to access the world class healthcare we are used to receiving. We are dedicated to ensuring that your rights at work are protected.