Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for residential aged care workers – what you need to know06 July 2021 Authored by: Megan Cheng, Annie Smeaton, Belinda Winter | Topics: Workplace relations and safety
With Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing that COVID-19 vaccinations will become mandatory for residential aged care workers, now is the perfect time for employers to start preparing.
What does the announcement mean for aged care employers?
Following National Cabinet’s meeting on 28 June 2021, the Prime Minister announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all residential aged care workers as a condition of working in a residential aged care facility.
Residential aged care workers will need to receive at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by mid September.
Which sectors does the announcement apply to?
At this stage, the COVID-19 vaccination mandate only applies to the aged care sector. However, National Cabinet is expecting to receive further advice about mandatory vaccinations for quarantine workers, disability care workers, FIFO workers in the resource sector, and workers in the air transport sector.
How can employers prepare?
The new vaccination mandate is anticipated to be implemented using the state public health directions that currently mandate the influenza vaccination for aged care workers.
With each state mandating the influenza vaccination differently, an in-depth look into each state’s public health directions will give employers the best opportunity to start preparing for the mid-September deadline.
Scott Morrison also announced the implementation of an $11 million support grant that will give eligible employees $80 per dose received, and $185 for a limited number of eligible employees who become unwell after their vaccination.
Residential aged care facilities are also eligible to receive $500 for flexible vaccination facilitation costs.
It is imperative that members of the aged care sector are aware of their legal rights and obligations, as the penalty for failing to comply with a public health direction in certain states can exceed $21,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations.
How can you find out more?
In our complimentary lunchtime webinar on Thursday 8 June 2021, Belinda Winter and Annie Smeaton will discuss the legal implications of the new vaccination mandate by examining:
- the public health directions for aged care facilities in each state and territory
- the $11 million Residential Aged Care COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Support Grant, eligibility, and how to apply
- the ongoing reporting requirements for providers of residential aged care
- whether workers must notify their employer about their vaccination status
- penalties and exemptions in each state and territory’s public health directions
- recent cases where the Fair Work Commission has upheld the dismissal of frontline care workers who refused to receive the influenza vaccination during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will also provide you with practical steps to take to prepare for September.
If you would like more information about these issues, please contact Belinda Winter, Annie Smeaton or another member of our workplace relations and safety team.