The question being asked by every organisation across the country — nay, across the planet — is whether the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for all employees.
With the federal government encouraging, although not enforcing, the vaccine for all Australians, companies have been left to establish their own policies. And, in doing so, wade through a landslide of legal and cultural considerations.
Can our workers refuse to come to work because another worker isn’t vaccinated? Will our employees be covered by our workers compensation insurance if they catch the coronavirus at work? According to Safe Work Australia, “they may be”.
So, how can our workplaces avoid rifts forming between workers who have, and haven’t, had the jab?
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People with disability and disability support workers are among the first cohorts to receive the vaccine, so, at Hireup, we have felt an especially pressing need to formalise our company’s position. Last month our sector’s peak body shared its strong support for federal and state governments to mandate vaccinations for all disability support providers (with “acceptable” exceptions).
As for our own company policy, we, like always, turned to our community.
Christie Suggate, from our service team, took the lead in consulting with hundreds of our clients and support workers through numerous surveys and focus groups. Two resounding insights were uncovered from these discussions: our community wants to be kept as safe as possible while retaining their choice, control and bodily autonomy.
Based on these findings, we are confident in forming our company’s position on the vaccine. This position is that while we support mass vaccination as a public health measure, we will not make having the vaccine a mandatory requirement for our employees or clients.
We will be using our platform to allow our clients and support workers to make an informed decision when making, or accepting, bookings. As our business is already geared to promote choice and control (our clients chose and manage their own support workers), we’ve been quick to adapt this new policy.
Our stance might change as the vaccine rolls out but, for now, this is where we’ve landed.
Who knows what this year will bring (as 2020 showed us, all bets are off), but this will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge facing businesses in the coming months.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.