Overview of New Vaccination Mandates in Victoria
On 4 October, the Chief Health Officer made Orders under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) that will require Operators of certain facilities to ensure their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 (Covid) by certain dates. Operators captured by these Orders are those who run any of the following:
- Residential aged care facilities;
- Construction sites;
- Healthcare facilities; and
- Education facilities.
A detailed list of the workers who will need to be vaccinated against Covid by certain dates as part of these Orders can be found here. The following table summarises the important dates and deadlines that workers captured by these Orders will need to be vaccinated against Covid by:
||First Dose Deadline
||Second Dose Deadline
|Residential Aged Care facility
||1 October 2021
||15 November 2021
||30 September 2021
||2 October 2021
||13 November 2021
||30 September 2021
||29 October 2021
||15 December 2021
||15 October 2021
||25 October 2021
||29 November 2021
||18 October 2021
The ‘Relevant Date’ column refers to the date by which workers need to demonstrate that they have made a booking to receive a first dose of a Covid vaccine.
Collecting Vaccination Information
An important obligation imposed on Operators of any of the above facilities by the Orders is that the “Operator must collect record and hold vaccination information”. Accordingly, Operators will need to inform their workers as soon as possible of their requirement to keep up to date and accurate records of vaccination information. The Orders provide powers of inspection to an Authorised Officer, as well as the ability to issue fines to ensure compliance. Considering this point, Operators must be informed of what ‘vaccination information’ they are required to collect, record and hold from their workers.
The Orders provide that Vaccination Information is “information about a person’s vaccination status and includes information that is derived from a record of information that was made under, or in accordance with, the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 of the Commonwealth”.
The Orders also state that Vaccination Information may be recorded in a variety of documents, such as:
- a letter from a medical practitioner;
- a certificate of immunisation obtained from the Australian Immunisation Register;
- an immunisation history statement obtained from the Australian Immunisation Register.
Where a worker is unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, the Operator must also collect information regarding;
- whether the worker has a booking to receive a first dose of a Covid vaccine prior to the applicable first dose deadline; and
- whether the worker has a booking to receive a second dose of a Covid vaccine before the applicable second dose deadline.
The Orders only allow an Operator to use vaccination information received by workers to comply with clause 4 of the Orders (i.e. the vaccination information may only be used to ensure compliance with the vaccine mandate).
The Orders require Operators to take reasonable steps to prevent entry of unvaccinated workers to their premises on or after the respective Relevant Date in the above table. In the instance that the Operator does not hold vaccination information about the worker, the Operator must treat the worker as if they are unvaccinated. An Operator may allow an unvaccinated worker to work at their premises after the Relevant Date, provided that:
- the unvaccinated worker has an appointment for a first dose of a Covid vaccine by the applicable first dose deadline; and
- the Operator takes reasonable steps to ensure that at a minimum, the worker has access to a surgical mask and face shield (PPE).
As an Operator, compliance with the above is excepted only if one or more the following exceptional circumstances apply:
- a worker is required to perform work or duties at the facility that is or are necessary to provide for urgent specialist clinical or medical care due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance; or
a worker is required to fill a vacancy to provide urgent care, to maintain quality of care and/or continue essential operations at the
facility due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance;
- Example 1: a work premises has a large number of worker furloughed due to exposure at a Tier 1 site.
- Example 2: a medical practitioner is required to attend the premises on short notice due to an emergency situation.
- a worker is required to attend the facility to respond to an emergency at the facility; or
a worker is required to perform urgent and essential work at the facility to protect the health and safety of workers or members of the
public, or to protect assets and infrastructure:
- Example 1: securing a crane due to impending high winds.
- Example 2: works required at a construction site in order to make the construction site safe for continued operation.
If any of the above exceptional circumstances apply, the Operator must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the worker remains upon the premises only for the period of time necessary to respond to the exceptional circumstance. The Operator must also ensure that the worker wears PPE at all times while at the workplace.
The Orders will require Operators to ensure their workers are vaccinated against Covid very soon, and actively take steps to prevent unvaccinated workers from entering their premises beyond the respective deadlines. As an Operator of a facility captured by these Orders, the most important takeaways are:
- Notify your workers of the Orders requiring them to be vaccinated against Covid;
- Notify your workers of your obligation as an Operator to collect, record and hold vaccination information;
Prepare records of your workers’ vaccination information as soon as possible, by asking for:
- Evidence of appointments for first and second dose Covid vaccinations by unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers; and
- Evidence of vaccination after each dose of a Covid Vaccine.
- If required by an Authorised Officer, comply with a request to inspect vaccination information of workers on record after the Relevant Date.
Need help? Contact us
At Allied Legal, we make sure to stay up to date with the latest laws, regulations and policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need help understanding how COVID-19 laws will impact your business, you can call us on 03 8638 0888 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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