Which vaccine will residential aged care workers receive?

Residential aged care workers will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Phase 1a of the National Rollout Strategy.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, see the Department of Health website.

When will residential aged care workers get the vaccine?

Aged care workers are a priority population in Phase 1a of the National Rollout Strategy

Phase 1a vaccinations are expected to begin in February 2021.

How will the vaccine be rolled out to residential aged care workers?

Steps for providing vaccines to residential aged care workers are provided in the National Rollout Strategy.

For more information and updates on how the COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed go to the Department of Health website

Employers have a duty under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to eliminate, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. 

This page provides information about your obligations under the model WHS laws and how these relate to COVID-19 vaccines. This information will assist you to assess whether a COVID 19 vaccine is a reasonably practicable control measure to manage the risks of COVID-19 in your workplace. However, while this is a decision you will need to make taking into account your workplace, most employers will not need to make vaccination mandatory to comply with the model WHS laws. 

A safe and effective vaccine is only one part of keeping the Australian community safe and healthy. To meet your duties under the model WHS laws and minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in your workplace, you must continue to apply all reasonably practicable COVID-19 control measures including physical distancing, good hygiene and regular cleaning and maintenance and ensuring your workers do not attend work if they are unwell. You must also comply with any public health orders made by state and territory governments that apply to you and your workplace.

If you need information on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. The Fair Work Ombudsman has information on a range of matters, including giving directions to employees, leave entitlements and termination of employment. 

The national rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with access to free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. While the Government aims to have as many Australians as possible choose to be vaccinated, receiving a vaccination is voluntary. You can encourage your workers to get a COVID-19 vaccination, if they are able to.

Workplaces are recognised as a key setting for health promotion. You can help your workers find out more information about the vaccines by directing them to the Department of Health website. You can also develop your own informational material to support COVID-19 vaccination, provided certain conditions are met. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued guidance on communicating about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccines National Rollout Strategy identifies priority groups for vaccination, including critical and high-risk workers. The rollout will start with older Australians and certain industries.

The Australian Government is working together with state and territory governments to implement the arrangements under the Australian Vaccination and Treatment Strategy and the Rollout Strategy. For further information, go to the Department of Health website.

State and territory health agencies may make public health orders that require some workers to be vaccinated, for example, those considered to be working in high risk workplaces. If public health orders are made, you must follow them. You should stay up to date with the advice of your health agency.   

On 28 June 2021, the National Cabinet agreed that COVID-19 vaccinations are to be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures. For further information, go to the National Cabinet Media Statement.

Queensland has issued a public health direction for health workers working with diagnosed cases of COVID-19. For a link to Queensland’s public health directions go to our public health orders page. 

Western Australia has issued a public health direction for quarantine centre workers. For a link to Western Australia’s public health directions go to our public health orders page.

New South Wales has issued a public health direction for airport and quarantine workers. For a link to New South Wales’ public health directions go to our public health orders page.

How COVID-19 vaccines work

The COVID-19 vaccines will help protect people by either preventing or reducing symptoms of COVID-19 in the person who has received the vaccine. 

At this stage it is too early to tell if the COVID-19 vaccines will stop a vaccinated person from being infected with the virus. This means that a vaccinated person may unknowingly carry and spread the virus to others around them, including workers and others in their workplace. For this reason, you must continue to apply all reasonably practicable control measures.

For more information on how the COVID-19 vaccines work, go to the Department of Health website.

Vaccination and my WHS duties

The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, for those who wish to vaccinate. While the Australian Government is not making vaccination mandatory, states and territories may do so for some industries or workers through public health orders. More information is available on the public health orders page.  

On 28 June 2021, the National Cabinet agreed that COVID-19 vaccinations are to be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures. For further information, go to the National Cabinet Media Statement.

Queensland has issued a public health direction for health workers working with diagnosed cases of COVID-19. For a link to Queensland’s public health directions go to our public health orders page. 

Western Australia has issued a public health direction for quarantine centre workers. For a link to Western Australia’s public health directions go to our public health orders page.

New South Wales has issued a public health direction for airport and quarantine workers. For a link to New South Wales’ public health directions go to our public health orders page.

Do I have to make sure my workers are vaccinated under WHS laws?

Under WHS laws, you have a duty to eliminate or if not possible, minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. You may not be able to completely eliminate the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19 while carrying out work. However, you must do all that is reasonably practicable to minimise this risk and vaccination should be considered as one way to do so in the context of a range of COVID-19 control measures. 

It is unlikely that a requirement for workers to be vaccinated will be reasonably practicable.

To reduce risks such as COVID-19 in the workplace, you must:

  • undertake a risk assessment for your business (more information is available on the risk assessment page)
  • consider the available control measures and how they will help manage the risks of COVID-19, including any available vaccines, taking into account available evidence 
  • consult with workers and HSRs about COVID-19 and relevant control measures, including the COVID-19 vaccines (more information on your consultation obligations is available on the consultation page)
  • determine what control measures are reasonably practicable for you to implement in your workplace (more information on the meaning of reasonably practicable is available on the risk assessment page)

Do I need to include mandatory vaccination as a control measure to comply with my WHS duties?

It is unlikely that a requirement to be vaccinated will be reasonably practicable. 

This is because, for example:

  • at present, public health experts, such as the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has not recommended a vaccine be made mandatory in your industry 
  • there may not yet be a vaccine available for your workers, or
  • some of your workers have medical reasons why they cannot be vaccinated.

However ultimately whether you should require your workers to be vaccinated will depend on the particular circumstances at the time you are undertaking your risk assessment. 

Some factors you should consider on an ongoing basis include:

  • Is the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee recommending COVID-19 vaccinations for all workers in your industry? 
  • Will your workers be exposed to the risk of infection as part of their work? For example, hotel quarantine workers will be at higher risk of exposure when their work duties place them in contact with people who may be infected with COVID-19.
  • Do your workers work with people who would be vulnerable to severe disease if they contract COVID-19? 
  • What is the likelihood that COVID-19 could spread in the workplace? For example, some work tasks may require your workers to work in close proximity to each other. 
  • Do your workers interact with large numbers of other people in the course of their work that could contribute to a ‘super-spreading’ event if your workers contract COVID-19? 
  • What other control measures are available and in place in your workplace? Do those control measures already minimise the risk of infection, so far as is reasonably practicable?
  • Would a requirement to be vaccinated be unlawful in the circumstances? For example, would it discriminate against a class of employees? If you need information on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

More information on the meaning of reasonably practicable is available on the risk assessment page and in the guide: How to determine what is reasonably practicable to meet a health and safety duty.

Get advice

You should get advice if you are considering requiring your workers to be vaccinated, as it will not usually be reasonably practicable to require your workers to be vaccinated. There are lots of issues to think about - workplace relations, discrimination and privacy issues will also be relevant. Talk to your WHS regulator, the Fair Work Ombudsman, your employer organisation or other legal service before implementing any vaccination policy or program in your workplace.  

Remember, public health orders in your state or territory about COVID-19 vaccines may apply to your workers. You should keep up to date with what’s happening in your jurisdiction. More information is available on the public health orders page.  

Workers, customers and vaccinations

Can I require customers and visitors to prove they have been vaccinated before entering my workplace?

It is unlikely that WHS laws require you to ask customers and visitors for proof of vaccination.

If you want customers and visitors to be vaccinated as a condition of entry to your premises you should seek advice before you take any action as there may be privacy and discrimination issues that apply. 

For more information on privacy, go to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website. For more information on anti-discrimination laws, go to the Australian Human Rights Commission website.   

Can my workers refuse to come to work because another worker isn’t vaccinated?

Under WHS laws, a worker can only cease or refuse to carry out work if the worker has a reasonable concern that to carry out the work would expose the worker to a serious risk to the worker’s health or safety from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard. In most circumstances, a worker will not be able to rely on the WHS laws to cease work simply because another worker at the workplace isn’t vaccinated, however this will depend on the circumstances.

There is currently insufficient evidence about the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, there is no reason why workers who are currently attending workplaces with other people should stop doing so because of the vaccine rollout. For vulnerable workers, you should continue to implement other working arrangements where you reasonably can, such as working from home.

You should also talk to your workers to understand their concerns and assure them that you are continuing to implement all other control measures which are known to reduce the spread of the virus in the workplace, such as physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning. These measures must remain in place, even if your workers are vaccinated. 

Some of my workers cannot be vaccinated because of medical conditions. How do I protect my unvaccinated workers from COVID-19?

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination is only one part of keeping the Australian community safe. You must continue to implement all reasonably practicable control measures in your workplace, such as such as physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning and maintenance

You must also conduct a risk assessment to determine whether particular working arrangements should be put in place for workers who cannot be vaccinated. You should take into account the worker’s specific characteristics, the nature of your workplace and the type of work the worker performs. More information can be found on the vulnerable workers page.

Will I be held liable under WHS laws if I don’t make my workers get vaccinated and one of them gets COVID-19?

There is currently insufficient evidence about the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on transmission of the virus which means that a worker could get COVID-19 even if they are vaccinated. It is therefore unlikely that you have breached model WHS laws simply because you don’t require your workers to get vaccinated. More information on compliance and enforcement of WHS laws during the pandemic is available on the Statement of Regulatory Intent page

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination is one part of keeping the Australian community safe and you can encourage your workers to get vaccinated, if they can. But you must continue to implement all reasonably practicable control measures in your workplace, such as such as physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning and maintenance. Your workers should not come to work if they are unwell – even if they are vaccinated. 

What about my obligations under workers’ compensation laws?

Under workers’ compensation laws workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19 while at work, regardless of how they contracted it. Workers’ compensation laws differ in each state and territory, so you should seek advice from your workers’ compensation authority. Contact details and more information on workers’ compensation is available on the workers’ compensation page.

Which vaccine will residential aged care workers receive?

Residential aged care workers will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Phase 1a of the National Rollout Strategy.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, see the Department of Health website.

When will residential aged care workers get the vaccine?

Aged care workers are a priority population in Phase 1a of the National Rollout Strategy

Phase 1a vaccinations are expected to begin in February 2021.

How will the vaccine be rolled out to residential aged care workers?

Steps for providing vaccines to residential aged care workers are provided in the National Rollout Strategy.

For more information and updates on how the COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed go to the Department of Health website

Under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws you must ensure the safety of your workers, yourself and any others in the workplace as much as you reasonably can.

This page provides information about your obligations under the model WHS laws and how these relate to COVID-19 vaccines. This information will assist you if you are unsure whether you need to require your workers to be vaccinated, however for most small business owners, you will not need to do so to comply with the model WHS laws. 

Remember, a vaccine is just one part of keeping the Australian community safe and healthy. To meet your WHS duties keep doing all the other things you have put in place to stop the spread of the virus including physical distancing, good hygiene and regular cleaning and maintenance and making sure your workers know not to attend work if they are unwell. You must also comply with any public health orders that apply to you and your workplace.

If you need information on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. The Fair Work Ombudsman has information about giving directions to workers, leave entitlements and ending employment.

The national rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with access to free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. While the Government aims to have as many Australians as possible choose to be vaccinated, receiving a vaccination is voluntary. You can encourage your workers to get a COVID-19 vaccination, if they are able to. You can also help your workers find out more information about the vaccines by directing them to the Department of Health website.  

Workplaces are recognised as a key setting for health promotion. You can encourage your workers to get a COVID-19 vaccination, if they are able to. You can help your workers find out more information about the vaccines by directing them to the Department of Health website. You can also develop your own informational material to support COVID-19 vaccination, provided certain conditions are met.  The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued guidance on communicating about COVID-19 vaccines. 

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccines National Rollout Strategy identifies priority groups for vaccination, including critical and high-risk workers. The rollout will start with older Australians and certain industries. 

The Australia Government is working together with state and territory governments to implement the arrangements under the Australian Vaccination and Treatment Strategy and the Rollout Strategy. For further information, go to the Department of Health website

Some workers may have to get a vaccine under public health orders made by states and territories, for example, for people working in high risk workplaces. If public health orders apply to your business or workers, you must follow them. You should stay up to date with the advice of your health agency.

On 28 June 2021, the National Cabinet agreed that COVID-19 vaccinations are to be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures. For further information, go to the National Cabinet Media Statement.

Queensland has issued a public health direction for health workers working with diagnosed cases of COVID-19. For a link to Queensland’s public health directions go to our public health orders page. 

Western Australia has issued a public health direction for quarantine centre workers. For a link to Western Australia’s public health directions go to our public health orders page.

New South Wales has issued a public health direction for airport and quarantine workers. For a link to New South Wales’ public health directions go to our public health orders page.

How COVID-19 vaccines work

The COVID-19 vaccines will help protect people by either preventing or reducing symptoms of COVID-19 in the person who has received the vaccine.

At this stage it is too early to tell if the COVID-19 vaccines will stop a vaccinated person from being infected with the virus. This means that a vaccinated person may unknowingly carry and spread the virus to others around them, including workers and others in their workplace. For this reason, you must continue to apply all reasonably practicable control measures to stop the spread of the virus.

For more information on how the COVID-19 vaccines work, go to the Department of Health website.

Vaccination and my WHS duties

The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, for those who wish to be vaccinated. While the Australian Government is not making vaccination mandatory, states and territories may do so for some industries or workers through public health orders

On 28 June 2021, the National Cabinet agreed that COVID-19 vaccinations are to be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures. For further information, go to the National Cabinet Media Statement.

Queensland has issued a public health direction for health workers working with diagnosed cases of COVID-19. For a link to Queensland’s public health directions go to our public health orders page. 

Western Australia has issued a public health direction for quarantine centre workers. For a link to Western Australia’s public health directions go to our public health orders page.

New South Wales has issued a public health direction for airport and quarantine workers. For a link to New South Wales’ public health directions go to our public health orders page.

The model WHS laws require you to ensure the safety of your workers, yourself and any others in the workplace as much as you reasonably can. This includes the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. You may not be able to completely eliminate the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19 while at work. However, you must do all that you reasonably can to minimise this risk. 

To reduce risks such as COVID-19 in the workplace, you must:

  • undertake a risk assessment for your business (more information is available on the information for small business page)
  • consider the available control measures and how they will help manage the risks of COVID-19, including any available vaccines, taking into account available evidence
  • consult with workers and any HSRs about COVID-19 and relevant control measures, including the COVID-19 vaccines (more information on your consultation obligations is available on the consultation page)
  • determine what control measures are reasonably practicable for you to implement in your workplace (more information on the meaning of reasonably practicable is available on the information for small business page)

Do I need to include mandatory vaccination as a control measure to comply with my WHS duties?

It is unlikely that a requirement to be vaccinated will be reasonably practicable. 

This is because, for example:

  • public health experts, such as the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee have not recommended a vaccine be made mandatory in your industry 
  • there may not yet be a vaccine available for your workers, or
  • some of your workers have medical reasons why they cannot be vaccinated.

However, ultimately whether you should require your workers to be vaccinated will depend on the particular circumstances at the time you are undertaking your risk assessment. 

Some factors you should consider on an ongoing basis include:

  • Is the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee recommending COVID-19 vaccinations for all workers in your industry? 
  • Will your workers be exposed to the risk of infection as part of their work? For example, hotel quarantine workers will be at higher risk of exposure when their work duties place them in contact with people who may be infected with COVID-19.
  • Do your workers work with people who would be vulnerable to severe disease if they contract COVID-19? 
  • What is the likelihood that COVID-19 could spread in the workplace? For example, some work tasks may require your workers to work in close proximity to each other. 
  • Do your workers interact with large numbers of other people in the course of their work that could contribute to a ‘super-spreading’ event if your workers contract COVID-19? 
  • What other control measures are available and in place in your workplace? Do those control measures already minimise the risk of infection, so far as is reasonably practicable?
  • Would a requirement to be vaccinated be unlawful in the circumstances? For example, would it discriminate against a class of employees? If you need information on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

More information on the meaning of reasonably practicable is available on the small business page and in the guide: How to determine what is reasonably practicable to meet a health and safety duty.

Get advice 

You should get advice if you are considering requiring your workers to be vaccinated. There are lots of issues to think about - workplace relations, discrimination and privacy issues will also be relevant. Talk to your WHS regulator, the Fair Work Ombudsman, your employer organisation or other legal service before implementing any vaccination policy or program in your workplace.  

Remember, public health orders in your state or territory about COVID-19 vaccines may apply to your workers. You should keep up to date with what’s happening in your jurisdiction. For more information, go to the public health orders page.

Workers, customers and vaccinations

Can I require customers and visitors to prove they have been vaccinated before entering my workplace?

It is unlikely that WHS laws require you to ask customers and visitors for proof of vaccination.

If you want customers and visitors to be vaccinated as a condition of entry to your premises, you should seek advice before you take any action as there may be privacy and discrimination issues that apply. 

For more information on privacy, go to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website. For more information on anti-discrimination laws, go to the Australian Human Rights Commission website.   

Can my workers refuse to come to work because another worker isn’t vaccinated?

Under WHS laws, a worker can only cease or refuse to carry out work if the worker has a reasonable concern that to carry out the work would expose the worker to a serious risk to the worker’s health or safety from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard. In most circumstances, a worker will not be able to rely on the WHS laws to cease work simply because another worker at the workplace isn’t vaccinated, however this will depend on the circumstances.

There is no reason why workers who are currently attending workplaces with other people should stop doing so because of the vaccine rollout. Over time we will learn more about the effectiveness of the vaccines and whether they can stop transmission of the virus. For vulnerable workers, you should continue to implement other working arrangements where you reasonably can, such as working from home.

You should also talk to your workers to understand their concerns and assure them that you are continuing to implement all other control measures which are known to reduce the spread of the virus in the workplace, such as physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning. These measures must remain in place, even if your workers are vaccinated. 

Will I be held liable under WHS laws if I don’t make my workers get vaccinated and one of them gets COVID-19?

There is currently insufficient evidence about the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on transmission of the virus which means that it may be possible for a worker to get COVID-19 even if they are vaccinated. It is therefore unlikely that you have breached model WHS laws simply because you don’t require your workers to get vaccinated. More information on compliance and enforcement of WHS laws during the pandemic is available is available on the Statement of Regulatory Intent page.

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination is one part of keeping the Australian community safe and you can encourage your workers to get vaccinated, if they can. But you must continue to implement all reasonably practicable control measures in your workplace, such as physical distancing, good hygiene and regular cleaning and maintenance. Your workers should not come to work if they are unwell – even if they are vaccinated. 

Some of my workers cannot be vaccinated because of medical conditions. How do I protect my unvaccinated workers from COVID-19?

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination is only one part of keeping the Australian community safe. You must continue to implement all reasonably practicable control measures in your workplace, such as such as physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning and maintenance

You must also conduct a risk assessment to determine whether particular working arrangements should be put in place for workers who cannot be vaccinated. You should take into account the worker’s specific characteristics, the nature of your workplace and the type of work the worker performs. More information can be found on the vulnerable workers page. 
 

What about my obligations under workers’ compensation laws?

Under workers’ compensation laws workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19 while at work, regardless of how they contracted it. Workers’ compensation laws differ in each state and territory, so you should seek advice from your workers’ compensation authority. Contact details and more information on workers’ compensation is available is available on the workers’ compensation page.

Which vaccine will residential aged care workers receive?

Residential aged care workers will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Phase 1a of the National Rollout Strategy.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, see the Department of Health website.

When will residential aged care workers get the vaccine?

Aged care workers are a priority population in Phase 1a of the National Rollout Strategy

Phase 1a vaccinations are expected to begin in February 2021.

How will the vaccine be rolled out to residential aged care workers?

Steps for providing vaccines to residential aged care workers are provided in the National Rollout Strategy.

For more information and updates on how the COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed go to the Department of Health website

Your employer has a duty under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to eliminate, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. A safe and effective vaccine is only one part of keeping the Australian community safe and healthy. To minimise the risks of COVID-19, workplaces must continue to apply all reasonably practicable COVID-19 control measures including physical distancing, good hygiene and regular cleaning and maintenance, and comply with any public health orders that apply.

This page provides information on your rights and obligations under the model WHS laws in relation to the COVID-19 vaccines. If you need information on your rights and obligations under workplace relations laws, such as your leave entitlements, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website.  

The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with access to free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. While the Government aims to have as many Australians as possible choose to be vaccinated, receiving a vaccination is voluntary. You should get a COVID-19 vaccine if you can.

The national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccines National Rollout Strategy identifies priority groups for vaccination, including critical and high-risk workers. The rollout will start with older Australians and certain industries.

The Australian Government is working together with state and territory governments to implement the arrangements under the Australian Vaccination Strategy and the Rollout Strategy. For further information and to find out when you are able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, go to the Department of Health website

State and territory health agencies may make public health orders that require some workers to be vaccinated. If public health orders are made, you must follow them - stay up to date with the advice of your health agency.

On 28 June 2021, the National Cabinet agreed that COVID-19 vaccinations are to be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures. For further information, go to the National Cabinet Media Statement.

Queensland has issued a public health direction for health workers working with diagnosed cases of COVID-19. For a link to Queensland’s public health directions go to our public health orders page. 

Western Australia has issued a public health direction for quarantine centre workers. For a link to Western Australia’s public health directions go to our public health orders page.  

New South Wales has issued a public health direction for airport and quarantine workers. For a link to New South Wales’ public health directions go to our public health orders page.

How the COVID-19 vaccines work

The COVID-19 vaccines will help protect people by either preventing or reducing symptoms of COVID-19 in the person who has received the vaccine. 

At this stage it is too early to tell if the COVID-19 vaccines will stop a vaccinated person from being infected with the virus. This means that a vaccinated person may unknowingly carry and spread the virus to others around them, including workers and others in their workplace. Because of this, your employer must continue to apply all reasonably practicable control measures.

For more information on how the COVID-19 vaccines work, go to the Department of Health website.

Can I be forced to get a vaccine?

You cannot be forced to get a vaccination or undergo any medical procedure against your will. For most workers, your employer will not be able to require you to be vaccinated under work health and safety laws.

However, some employers may lawfully require workers to have had a vaccine to perform work or to undertake certain tasks in a workplace, including where there is a public health order which requires vaccination.

If you are a worker who cannot be vaccinated, and you work at a workplace that requires vaccination, you should talk to your employer, health and safety representative (HSR) or worker representative about your options. For information about your workplace rights you can also talk to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Can my employer require me to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under WHS laws?

All Australians are being encouraged to choose to be vaccinated. The vaccine helps your body to recognise and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 and protects you from getting sick with COVID-19. When enough people in the community get immunised, it is also more difficult for the virus to spread.  

The model work health and safety laws require your employer to do all that they reasonably can (that is, what is reasonably practicable) to protect workers from the risk of exposure to COVID-19. For most workers, it will not be reasonably practicable for your employer to require you to be vaccinated. 

However, there may be some exceptions, particularly if you work in industries where there is an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. There may also be specific public health orders in your state or territory that require you to be vaccinated. More information is available on the public health orders page

On 28 June 2021, the National Cabinet agreed that COVID-19 vaccinations are to be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures. For further information, go to the National Cabinet Media Statement.

Queensland has issued a public health direction for health workers working with diagnosed cases of COVID-19. For a link to Queensland’s public health directions go to our public health orders page. 

Western Australia has issued a public health direction for quarantine centre workers. For a link to Western Australia’s public health directions go to our public health orders page.

New South Wales has issued a public health direction for airport and quarantine workers. For a link to New South Wales’ public health directions go to our public health orders page.

If your employer does require you to be vaccinated, they should provide you with relevant information and materials so that you can make an informed decision about vaccination and you should talk to your treating medical practitioner if you have any concerns. 

More information on the vaccines is available from the Department of Health website. You can also contact your WHS regulator, health and safety representative (HSR) or worker organisation for assistance.

What about my duty as a worker under WHS laws? Does this mean I have to be vaccinated?

As a worker, you must take reasonable care of yourself and not do anything that would adversely affect the health and safety of others at work. You must also follow any reasonable health and safety instructions from your employer as far as you are reasonably able.

If there is a law or public health order in place which requires you to be vaccinated, for example because you work in a certain industry, you may need to be vaccinated to work, or continue to work, in that industry.

Remember, the Australian Government is encouraging everyone who can to get a COVID-19 vaccine. You should talk to your treating medical practitioner if you have any concerns.  

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, go to the Department of Health website.

Can I be dismissed from my job or penalised if I decide not to be vaccinated?

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides information and advice to employers and employees on workplace entitlements and obligations under Australian workplace laws. For more information go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website

Does my employer have to talk to me before requiring vaccinations at my workplace?

Yes.

If your employer is considering introducing a mandatory vaccination policy in your workplace, they must consult with you and your health and safety representative (HSR), if any, before taking any action. Your employer must give you an opportunity to share your ideas and express any concerns and take them into account. You should let them know if there is a reason why you cannot be vaccinated. 

Consultation must occur using the established consultation procedures at your workplace, if you have any. Otherwise, consultation may occur broadly, for example, through staff messaging or more directly, through small group discussions, depending on the size and nature of your organisation.

More information is available on the consultation page.

What do I do if I have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines?

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring Australians have access to safe and effective vaccines. Any COVID-19 vaccine can only be used in Australia if the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved it through its rigorous approvals process. More information on the approvals process is available on the Department of Health website.

If you still have concerns about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, you should talk to your treating medical practitioner. 

I’m pregnant – can I be vaccinated?

Advice for those pregnant or breast feeding is available on the Department of Health website.

I will not be able to be vaccinated because of a medical condition. What do I do?

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination is only one part of keeping the Australian community safe. Your employer must continue to implement all reasonably practicable control measures in your workplace, such as such as physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning and maintenance. 

Your employer must also consider whether because of your circumstances, particular working arrangements need to be put in place for you. Your employer should take into account your specific characteristics, the nature of your workplace and the type of work you do. More information can be found on the vulnerable workers page.  
 

I am vaccinated. Do I still have to take other precautions such as physical distancing and frequently washing my hands?

Yes. A safe and effective vaccine is only be one part of keeping the Australian community safe and healthy. It is important that you continue to take the following steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • follow the public health orders in your state or territory
  • don’t attend work when you are unwell, have COVID-19 symptoms or have been told to stay at home by health officials (e.g. you are required to quarantine or have been tested for COVID-19)
  • do all you reasonably can to work safely, including observing controls your employer has put in place for COVID-19 such as physical distancing and cleaning processes and procedures)
  • follow training and instructions your employer has provided to you (e.g. about how to wash hands thoroughly) 
  • ask if you’re not sure how to safely perform the work 
  • use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves in the way you were trained and instructed to use it, and 
  • report any unsafe situations (e.g. a lack of soap in the bathroom) to your supervisor or to your health and safety representative (HSR).

Your employer is required to make sure everyone in your workplace keeps practicing COVID-19 control measures even after the vaccine rollout begins.

Can my employer ask me for proof that I am vaccinated? 

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides information and advice to employers and employees on workplace entitlements and obligations under Australian workplace laws. For more information go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website

More information about workplace privacy is available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website or on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s website.

Am I entitled to workers’ compensation if I get COVID-19? 

Under workers’ compensation laws you may be entitled to workers’ compensation if you contract COVID-19 while at work, regardless of how you contracted it. Workers’ compensation laws differ in each state and territory, so contact your workers’ compensation authority if you need advice. Contact details and more information on workers’ compensation is available on the workers’ compensation page.
 

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