A partner at the firm warned against assumptions regarding the legal enforceability of such policies
Mandatory vaccination is a rising trend among employers, the results of a survey conducted by Piper Alderman revealed.
The firm said that over 40% of large employers in Australia have required or are looking to require staff to be vaccinated. According to The Australian, organisations that have recently implemented mandatory vaccination policies as offices open up include PwC, Deloitte, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Telstra.
“The commercial pressures of bigger companies mandating vaccines is gaining pace and this is having a flow on effect to businesses with public facing staff or where there is a risk that a business might need to shut down due to exposure and infection in their own ranks,” employment relations partner Joe Murphy wrote in a blog post on Piper Alderman’s website.
Murphy explained that businesses consider two main factors when it comes to implementing mandatory vaccination policies: staying afloat and making a profit, and looking out for the health and safety of staff, customers and visitors. However, he warned organisations against automatically assuming that mandatory vaccination policies are going to be legally enforceable or reasonable.
“Businesses must do what is necessary, reasonable and lawful for their businesses and their communities. There is always going to be a minority of workers who will object or be vaccine hesitant. It is important that the imposition of mandatory vaccinations for workers and others is implemented carefully and in compliance with any requirements (such as consultation),” he said.
Vaccination policies must have room for flexibility to avoid discrimination, Murphy pointed out. Such policies must also take into account state government mandates, risk profile, location, industry and the size and complexity of their workforce, Piper Alderman added.
The Australian highlighted the push of concrete waterproofing and remediation company Xypex Australia to introduce a mandatory vaccination policy. The company had consulted with 80 employees situated in different parts of the country, and indicated the navigation of state-by-state vaccination regulations as a major obstacle.
“It’s quite ironic that we’ve gone through COVID-19 shutdowns for so many months and work’s been put on hold, and now the opportunities to go and do those [construction] projects are starting to present themselves, but we are finding ourselves having to put them back on hold because of all the different state mandates around vaccination,” Xypex Australia general manager Lynn Butler said in a statement published by The Australian. “I really do think the government does need to think about the alignment of state policies, and things like that, in order to take some of that burden off business because it is huge.”
Piper Alderman surveyed 550 organisations that run the gamut from ASX listers and private companies to not-for-profit and government organisations in line with the firm’s national employment relations webinar.