New Directions support implementation of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations
September 8, 2021
From 17 September 2021, residential aged care (RAC) workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.
In late-August, COVID-19 vaccination rates for RAC facilities in Victoria indicated that around 80 per cent of public sector workers and 70 per cent of private and not for profit staff have received their first dose.
As the September deadline approaches, the Victorian Chief Health Officer has issued the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Directions under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to support the implementation of this policy in Victoria.
The Directions apply to all workers, contractors, students and volunteers who perform work at a public, private, and not-for profit RAC facilities. The Directions do not apply to those who work solely at a worksite that does not include RAC facilities, such as a head office. A list of workers included in the Directions as ‘RAC workers’ can be found at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19
In short, the Directions allow for a transition period from 17 September to 15 November, at which time RAC workers will not be permitted on site unless they are fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.
Summary of RAC worker obligations
All RAC workers in Victoria must:
- have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 17 September 2021, or
- provide evidence of a vaccination booking before 1 October 2021, and
- provide evidence of a second-dose vaccination booking before 15 November 2021.
Workers who are booked to have their first dose between 17 and 30 September 2021 can continue working until 30 September, however they must wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) when working and only work at a single facility.
Summary of employer obligations
Employers must sight evidence from their workers of their COVID-19 vaccination status and keep up-to-date records of employee vaccination status, or where an employee has a medical exemption. Further work is underway to confirm the reporting arrangements and data collection with the Commonwealth Government.
Employers must inform current and prospective RAC workers of their obligations under the Directions.
Between 17 and 30 September 2021, employers cannot allow a worker who has not provided evidence of their vaccination from entering the RAC facility unless they have evidence of a vaccination booking before 1 October and comply with the additional PPE requirements.
From 1 October 2021, employers cannot allow entry to the RAC facility unless a worker has provided evidence of being fully vaccinated, having had their first dose and a booking for their second by 15 November, or having a medical exemption.
From 15 November, employers must ensure all workers entering the facility are either fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.
Penalties for non-compliance will apply to the employer’s obligations. Further details are available in the Directions.
Workers who refuse the facility operator’s requests to provide evidence of their vaccination status or a valid exemption will not be subject to a penalty under the Directions. However, the operator must prohibit their entry to the facility.
More information is available at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19