WA’s Workplace Vaccine Mandate
Last month the WA Government released a mandatory vaccination policy for the majority of occupations and workforces in WA. This policy will be introduced as a phased approach and will affect growers in multiple ways.
The policy follows the existing mandates in place for workers in high-risk industries, including those interacting with people at an increased risk of being infected with COVID-19, or people who are vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, or where it is necessary to avoid catastrophic risk to the safety of the community.
The policy’s phased approach is to apply mandatory vaccinations for more industries in WA and a requirement for other critical workers to be vaccinated to attend work in the event of a lockdown or similar restrictions.
So, how will this affect horticultural businesses?
Growers must be aware that their businesses may fit into multiple vaccine mandate categories. For the most part, these mandates will fall into Group 2 and Group 3 “in the event of a lockdown”.
It is important to note that group one and group two mandates are under the Health Act and will therefore monitored by the Department of Health. Whereas the group three “in the event of lockdown” mandate is under the Emergency Management Act and consequently monitored by the WA Police. In the event of a lockdown, police may ask for proof of vaccination and employment in a critical occupation.
In the event of a lockdown, any workers proceeding to work during the event are required to be vaccinated. Therefore, employers will need to know the vaccination status of their employees, or they could be faced penalties from $20,000 – $100,000.
What can you ask your employee? – Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
- An employer can only require an employee to provide evidence of their vaccination in particular circumstances and if an employer intends to collect employees’ vaccination status to a record, they must be satisfied that this collection is permitted under Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 3. However, an employer must seek consent in order to collect employees’ vaccination status information, an employer cannot pressure or intimidate an employee to provide this information.
- An employees reason for choosing to not have the COVID-19 vaccination and any medical evidence related to this decision is sensitive information under the Privacy Act. This information can only be collected with consent unless there is a public health order or direction – that requires your employer to collect your vaccination status information and reasons for non-vaccination.
- If an employer requests employees’ consent to collect vaccination status information, they are required to be transparent about why the information is being collected, and how it will be used, in line with APP 1
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