Western Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate
The Western Australian Government has introduced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy across three groups of industries and occupations, which covers up to 75% of the State's workforce.
Until public health orders are released that confirm and detail the vaccination policy's implementation, the key things WA employers need to know are:
- Group 1 industries include high-risk occupations due to high transmission risk, vulnerability risk, or those which are necessary or critical to the safety of the community. This group includes occupations where mandates are already in place and has been expanded to include industries such as health care, emergency services, and corrective services. Employees in this group must have their first dose by 1 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 31 December 2021.
- Group 2 industries include occupations deemed critical to the ongoing delivery of critical services to the community, including essential retailers, hospitality, accommodation providers, and school staff. Employees in this group must have their first dose by 31 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 31 January 2021.
- 'In the event of a lockdown' industries include other industries necessary to provide food and retail, members of WA Parliament, and occupations where people cannot work from home. Workers in these industries will be required to be vaccinated to attend work in the event of a lockdown. No vaccination deadline has been mandated for this group.
- Employees must give evidence in the form of a COVID-19 digital certificate or an immunisation history statement to their employer of full vaccination, which employers must keep records of, as authorised officers will run spot checks to monitor compliance. Employers could face fines of up to $100,000 for having unvaccinated staff working after the deadlines, and employees who fail to be fully immunised by the deadlines could face fines of up to $20,000.
Under work health and safety legislation, employers are obligated to consult with employees about hazards and risks (such as COVID-19) and any decisions taken to control such hazards and risks. Implementing a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy is one control measure to minimise or eliminate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
WA employers who do not have a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy in place may consider preparing one now. This will require consultation with employees in a genuine, two-way process that involves the employer sharing information about the policy in a timely and understandable way and inviting employee feedback.
Employers who currently have a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy should consider whether any updates or revisions are required to ensure compliance with the WA Government's mandate and any public health orders that are ultimately released.