Mandatory Vaccinations

By Robert Lamb, Director & Caitlyn Wessels, Lawyer at Hillhouse Legal Partners
| 4 min. read

Key takeaways

  • Employers are starting to address whether to make the vaccine mandatory for their employees.  
  • Some companies are making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for their employees, including frontline workers at Qantas and Virgin. 
  • Fair Work has stated that employers should exercise caution if they are considering making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory. 

Australian employers are starting to address whether or not to require their employees to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. 

On 5 August 2021, it was reported that an iconic Australian Company, the Shepparton Preserving Company (better known as SPC), issued a press release to announce that all its staff must be vaccinated by the end of November 2021. It stated that unvaccinated staff would risk not being admitted to their place of work. 

SPC chairman, Mr Sussein Rifai, advised in an interview with ABC, that the company had to do something “drastic to make sure that the infection doesn't hurt our staff, doesn't hurt our customers and just as importantly does not shut down the communities in which we operate."   

The Chairman advised in that interview that SPC will provide paid vaccination and recovery leave.  

In August 2021, it was also reported that both Qantas and Virgin have decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all frontline workers by 15 November 2021, and office based employees by 31 March 2022.   

In responding to the SPC press release, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union criticised the authoritarian way the company’s decision was made and conveyed to the union.   

Australian Council of Trade Unions Assistant Secretary, Mr Liam O’Brien stated on the Australian Union’s website, “Before we get heavy-handed and start using coercive tactics, we need to do everything we can to ensure that we’re supporting people to get vaccinated voluntarily. That’s how vaccination programs have worked forever.” 

The Australian government’s Fair Work website states that employers should exercise caution if they are considering making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for their staff.  

COVID-19 issues and concerns have further complicated an already extremely complex and ever-changing area of the law.   

We can help and advise you as to your legal rights and obligations under existing or new arrangements and how best to respond to COVID-19 issues. 

To get in contact and make a time to discuss your personal circumstances simply send us an email or call 07 3220 1144. 

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.