Changes from today to the Victorian Vaccination Directions – are your employees affected?
The Victorian COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions (No 2) came into effect at 11:59pm on Thursday 14 October, updating the directions previously issued on 8 October 2021. They were replaced by the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions (No 3) from 11:59pm Friday 15 October, with these later directions making a few further changes.
The Directions affect employers and some additional workers from Friday 15 October. All Victorian employers should be aware of the changes that may impact on the requirement for their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work outside their home.
Notably the vaccination requirements now apply to Victorian Local Government employees.
The Direction extends the categories of workers who are required to be vaccinated to work outside the home. If a worker who is captured by Directions is scheduled to work outside the home on or after 15 October, they must have already had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or have a booking for that dose no later than 22 October 2021.
From 15 October, an employer of a worker captured under the Directions must not permit a worker who is unvaccinated to work for that employer outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence. There are exemptions for emergency situations. A breach of this provision is punishable with a fine of up to $109,044.
An employer must also, as soon as reasonably practicable after the commencement of these Directions, inform each worker of the effect of the Directions. This obligation does not apply if the employer has previously notified the worker of the matters under the previous COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions.
An additional exceptional circumstance has been added that applies to education workers involved in assessments under the Victorian Certificate of Education or International Baccalaureate.
Which categories of workers are now included in the Directions?
|Anciliary, support and welfare worker||9(4)||Definition extended to include union/peak body/employer organisation officials attending a worksite as permitted by law or for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) advice.|
|9(6)||Definition extended to include a person who works in connection with a retirement village.|
|Justice worker (Previously ‘Justice service centre worker')||9(14)||Definition extended to include an honorary justice or a person who works in connection with an honorary justice.|
|Manufacturing worker||9(15)||Definition extended to include a person who works at or in connection with a premise used for the distribution of goods.|
|Media and film production worker||9(18)||Definition extended to include a person who works in connection with media services.|
|Professional services worker||9(23)||Definition extended to include a person who works in connection with an Australian legal practitioner who provides services in connection with the administration of justice where the services can (changed from ‘cannot’ in the previous version) be provided by an online communication, teleconference or by means of an audio-visual link facility.|
Explicitly does not include a member of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or a worker who works in connection with proceedings in a court, where that work cannot be done from the person's ordinary place of residence.
|Public sector worker||9(24)||Definition extended to include local government worker. For the purposes of these directions, local government worker means:|
Additionally, a Ministerial officer employed under section 98 of the Public Administration Act 2004 is included in the definition.A person who is a member of the staff of Court Services Victoria and a parliamentary officer are also explicitly excluded from the definition.
|Real estate worker||9(25)||Amended to clarify that an estate agent is included in the definition.|
|Retail worker||9(28)||Definition extended to include a person who works at or in connection with a:|
licensed premise, which means a business characterised as a pub, bar, club, nightclub or hotel that supplies alcohol under a general licence, an on-premise licence, a late night licence, a producer’s licence, a club licence, a packaged liquor licence, or a restaurant and café licence.
|Social and community worker||9(30)||Definition extended to include a person who works in connection with aged care services.|
Ongoing vaccination requirements
The Age has also reported that the Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley, in talking about mandatory vaccination of workers on Friday that ‘if you think that the expiration of these current orders will see that obligation mysteriously vanished, it will be in place for a substantial period of time, well into 2022.’ He is reported to have said ‘We have to deliver those booster shots. We have to continue to make sure that as we open up internationally, we have in place restrictions and safeguards ... that return us to the kind of lifestyle that we had, as close as possible [to] pre-pandemic, but it has to be done safely… And the key to that safety is being double dose vaccinated. And if you choose to place yourself outside of that system, then you have to be prepared to wear the consequences of your actions [are].’
For more information on the previous version of the Directions please read our earlier article.
The information above is based on the Directions released in Victoria to date. This is a rapidly changing area, with the Chief Health Officer indicating that the application and implications of directions are reviewed daily. Accordingly, employers should continually assess their rights and obligations.
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