To Mandate or Not To Mandate
Current research by the Australian HR Institute (AHRI) has found that sixty percent of the businesses interviewed will consider vaccination status when hiring new employees. The sample survey involved 760 HR professionals from around Australia’
AHRI also found that twenty-seven per cent of all companies that mandate Covid-19 vaccinations have already sacked unvaccinated staff.
Here in Queensland, and especially in the North and Far North, we have hardly been bothered by COVID and, consequently, businesses have not been confronted by the vaccinated staff issue. However, with the Queensland borders opening to all comers on Monday 13 December, the common view is that COVID will become a significant issue in our regions.
So, what to do? One option is to do nothing and to accept that COVID is present, and we just must learn to live with it and to be vaccinated or not, is a free choice. The problem is that the issue is divisive, and many companies report that the issue has caused a culture split among their staff.
A second option is to terminate the employment of unvaccinated employees. In most cases the unvaccinated will represent a small portion of employees. Doing so may well preserve staff morale and at the same time show that the employer is acting to provide a safe workplace as is required by law.
The revelation that up to 60 per cent of companies could make vaccination a prerequisite for a job comes as the Fair Work Commission (FWC) grapples with the legalities of mandating the jab.
Sacked workers could claim they were dismissed unfairly and take the issue to the FWC.
AHRI CEO, Sarah McCann-Bartlett, claims that vaccination status, unlike, race or gender, was not a protected characteristic under discrimination law. But employers must treat candidates with a valid medical exemption in the same way as vaccinated candidates.
Employers that insist on the jab for existing employees must ensure the policy is reasonable based on the business essential needs such as customers demanding vaccinated staff. Further, the employer must be able to demonstrate they conducted detailed consultations with their staff before implementing the policy. The airlines are an example of such a situation.
COVID has created a number of difficult and emotive issues and the mandating or otherwise of vaccinations for employees is but one of them. There is no standard answer that fits every business and every situation. Stay within the law and consult fully and frankly with your employees before implementing policies.
The Christmas and New Year season is upon us so inclosing this little Christmas story might bring a smile to your face with which to end a difficult year.
It’s a sign of the times. As a little girl climbed onto Santa’s lap, Santa asked the usual, “And what would you like for Christmas?” The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: “Didn’t you get my E-mail?”
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!