Safe Work Australia recently issued a fact sheet to assist small businesses in understanding their WHS duties around COVID-19 vaccines.
The fact sheet noted that COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary and will be available in phases –starting with older Australians and high-risk industries.
Safe Work Australia said small business must continue to take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 including physical distancing, good hygiene, regular cleaning and maintenance and using personal protective equipment.
“Continue to make sure your workers do not attend work if they are unwell. You must also continue to comply with any public health orders that apply to you and your workplace,” the fact sheet said.
Most small businesses won’t need to require workers to be vaccinated to meet their WHS duties, Safe Work Australia said.
“For most small businesses, it is unlikely that a requirement to be vaccinated will be reasonably practicable.
“You can talk to your WHS regulator, employer organisation or other legal services if you are unsure.
“Don’t implement a mandatory vaccination policy without first talking to your workers and seeking advice,” Safe Work Australia said.
It is important to talk to workers who may have questions about the vaccines, and the fact sheet said it is important to consult with workers and health and safety representatives before implementing any WHS changes in the workplace.
“You may have rights and responsibilities under other laws in relation to COVID-19 vaccines, including workplace relations, anti-discrimination and privacy laws,” the fact sheet said.
“Seek advice if you are unsure. For example, for help about what to do if a worker is not vaccinated, talk to your WHS regulator, the Fair Work Ombudsman, your employer organisation or other legal services.”