Useful information for SDA members
The SDA is committed to the safety of our members and keeping workplaces safe throughout the pandemic. That has always been our first priority for members. This includes priority access to vaccines for SDA members who want them as essential frontline workers. To date throughout the pandemic the SDA and our members have been served well by following the available health advice from competent health authorities.
Covid is an important public health issue. Health authorities are focused on protecting community health and safety which in turn protects our members.
This is a complex issue and the SDA remains committed to our members safety.
Whether Covid vaccination is a requirement in a workplace is a serious decision that should not be left to individual employers and should only be made following public health advice based on risk and medical evidence and where required implemented through the use of appropriate and limited Public Health Orders.
1. We support priority access to vaccination for retail, fast food, distribution and hair and beauty workers.
2. All workers should have an entitlement to paid vaccination leave.
3. We support and encourage members to seek medical advice in relation to vaccination.
4. We do not support individual employers making decisions about mandatory vaccination of their employees.
5. If a Public Health Order is made requiring vaccination for workplaces, by a government or Chief Medical Officer, it should only be made:
- a) Following public health advice based on risk and medical advice;
- b) After proper government consultation with unions & employers on the need for and the implementation of a vaccine mandate;
- (c) With sufficient time and supply of vaccine to enable workers to obtain medical advice and vaccination;
- (d) Workers required to have mandatory vaccination must have a choice of the vaccine they receive;
- (e) Exemptions need to be granted on accepted medical grounds;
- (f) Financial assistance is available for any worker, regardless of age, who is unable to work due to an inability to be vaccinated because either c or d above could not be met or due to e.
It is not the role of retail and fast food workers to enforce customer compliance with check in requirements and/or the vaccination status of customers. These are matters for the Police and public health authorities.
No. An employer cannot force their employees to get a vaccination or undergo any medical procedure against their will.
Safe Work Australia advice suggests that employers can encourage their workers to get a COVID-19 vaccination, if they are able to.
It is the SDA’s position that employers should not direct workers to be vaccinated unless there is a specific public health direction in a state or territory that requires a worker to be vaccinated.
SDA members should contact their local SDA branch if their employer consults with them in relation to this or directs them to be vaccinated.
Workers must take reasonable care of themselves and not do anything that would adversely affect the health and safety of others at work. They must also follow any reasonable health and safety instructions from their employer.
For the industries that SDA members work in, an instruction from their employer will not be a reasonable direction unless there is a specific health direction in a State or Territory that requires their workers to be vaccinated.
If the vaccination is mandated in SDA covered industries by a government health direction, employers may then request workers to be vaccinated.
However, the choice to be vaccinated will remain with the worker.
Some workers will not be able to be vaccinated for medical reasons. If an employer requests that workers be vaccinated, they should talk to their employer and where appropriate and they feel comfortable to, they could provide a medical certificate to demonstrate that they are unable to be vaccinated. Directing an employee to provide evidence of a medical reason for refusing a vaccination, however, is likely to raise privacy issues.
Pregnant workers may also have concerns about the vaccine during pregnancy and should consult with their doctor for advice about getting the vaccination.
If a worker cannot be vaccinated or chooses not to be vaccinated, and they work at a workplace that requires or requests they be vaccinated they should contact their local SDA Branch for advice and assistance.
Where vaccination is not mandatory workers should not be treated unfairly or discriminated against if they cannot or choose not to be vaccinated.
Where a worker must be vaccinated because this is mandated by a government health direction and they cannot be vaccinated, the employer should discuss other options with them such as paid leave or alternative duties.
Any COVID-19 vaccine can only be used in Australia if the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved it through its rigorous approvals process. The TGA is an independent authority.
However, if a member has concerns about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, they should talk to their treating medical practitioner.
Yes. The vaccines will help protect people who have been vaccinated by either preventing or reducing symptoms of COVID-19, however, 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 current control measures required in your workplace such as physical distancing, cleaning, and hygiene measures.
Employers are still required to make sure everyone in in the workplace keeps practising COVID safe measures even after the vaccine rollout begins.
It will depend on the policies that apply in that workplace. An employer would need to establish that a request for evidence that an employee is vaccinated is a lawful and reasonable request and is not in breach of privacy laws.
Members who have been treated unfairly or discriminated against because of their vaccination status or decision not to advise their employer or provide evidence of their vaccination status should contact their local SDA Branch for advice and assistance.