Can your business mandate Covid-19 vaccines?
Can you force employees to disclose their Covid-19 vaccination status?
If an employee has an adverse reaction to their vaccine, is your business liable?
Whether your business can mandate employee vaccinations isn’t cut and dry. The information below is correct as of 22 September 2021 and we’ll do our best to keep you updated of any changes as they’re announced.
As Australia chases it’s vaccine targets, many employers are wondering how they can manage covid vaccination certificates. Fair Work has recently provided some guidance on this here, categorising Australian businesses and organisations into 4 tiers:
- In tiers 1 and 2, Fair Work has said it is reasonable for an employer to mandate vaccinations.
- In tier 3, a mandate could be reasonable if there have been recent outbreaks in the area the business operates, and if that business is remaining open during the outbreak.
- For businesses in tier 4, a vaccine mandate is unlikely to be considered reasonable.
Employment Hero is unable to provide you with advice on whether your workplace can mandate vaccines. If your workplace does mandate vaccines for eligible employees (i.e those without a medical exemption), the federal government has announced the No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme for proven adverse reactions to a Covid-19 vaccination to provide employers with more confidence in doing so.
Another common query is whether or not an employee is required to disclose their vaccine status. According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, employees are only required to disclose their vaccination status to their employer “in very limited circumstances”. Specifically:
“In some limited circumstances your employer may be able to require you to disclose information about your vaccination status without consent if collection of this information is required or authorised by an Australian law. This includes any Act of the Commonwealth, of a state or territory, or regulations or any other instrument made under such an Act, including public health orders or directions.”
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
In our experience, most employees will provide this information voluntarily. If you choose to mandate vaccinations, this can be managed in one of three ways in Employment Hero:
- Using the Certifications module
- Using Custom Fields
- Manually uploading certificates to employee files
Managing proof of vaccinations using Certifications
Using the Certifications module, you can create a new certification for all staff, or specific groups or individuals. If you are only requesting the certification from some employees, you could assign these employees to specific locations or teams, then assign the certification to those locations and teams.
This help article has step-by-step instructions on how to add a new certification to your organisation. After they have been assigned the certification, employees will receive weekly email reminders to upload their certificate. If an employee is ineligible for the vaccine, they can upload a doctor’s certificate instead.
After you have added the new certification, you will be able to run a compliance report to see who has or hasn’t uploaded their vaccine certificate. This help article has step-by-step instructions on how to add a run a compliance report for specific certifications.
Please note that you cannot make edits to certifications after they’ve been assigned. If this is your first time managing certifications in Employment Hero, we strongly recommend watching our Hero Academy workshop on certifications first.
Managing proof of vaccinations using Custom Fields
If you’d rather manage Covid-19 certifications without Employment Hero’s Certifications module, you could use Custom Fields (available on Platinum HR) to allow employees to voluntarily self-identify their vaccination status.
Manually uploading vaccine certificates to employee files
For smaller employers without Platinum HR, you could ask employees to submit a soft copy of their certification to you and then upload this to their individual employee files via the Upload documents tab.
How does Employment Hero manage this data?
At Employment Hero, privacy and security of information is our highest priority and we adhere to our privacy obligations under the relevant privacy legislation that applies to us. This includes ensuring higher protections when handling any sensitive personal information. For helpful information about an employer’s obligations to their staff in relation to the Covid-19 vaccinations, please see the OAIC guidance and advice here.
If you’re not an Employment Hero customer yet but would like to have a chat about how this feature might help your business, please get in touch.
See our Certifications feature in action here.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is relevant as at 22 September 2021, and has been prepared by Employment Hero Pty Ltd ABN (11 160 047 709) (Employment Hero). The views expressed herein are general information only and are provided in good faith to assist employers and their employees. The Information is based on data supplied by third parties. While such data is believed to be accurate, it has not been independently verified and no warranties are given that it is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for the purpose for which it is required. Employment Hero does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data and is not liable for any loss or damages arising either directly or indirectly as a result of reliance on, use of or inability to use any information provided in this article.