As you may be aware, the Western Australian Government has recently issued a new mandatory vaccination policy for WA workforces. The mandate looks at enforcing vaccinations to industries that have been determined essential or high risk. Industries include healthcare and support workers, critical emergency services staff, hotel quarantine staff and resources workers. This is the first group of workforces to be enforced to have the vaccine, and this list will be expanding over the next coming months.
The vaccine mandate is designed to help protect Australians by either preventing or reducing the symptoms of COVID-19 in the person who has received the vaccination.
Just like employers can mandate that employees received flu needles in high-risk industries, the same principles apply to the COVID-19 vaccination.
It is important to note that a vaccinated person may still be an unknowing carrier of the virus. It is significant to continue to apply all control measures to stop the spread of the virus, even when you and your staff have been vaccinated.
WA COVID-19 Quick Stats (as of Mon 6 Dec)
- Confirmed cases so far: 1,122
- Recovered: 1,112
- Deaths: 9
- WA population aged 12+ fully vaccinated: 78.3 per cent
What industries are affected by the mandate?
Mandatory vaccinations will expand across an estimated 75% of the entire Western Australian workforce. This expansion will be enforced through a phased approach, reaching a broad range of industries and workplaces.
The first group of workforces with enforced vaccination regulations are determined as having high-risk environments. This group includes cross-border freight workers, primary and community health workers, fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers, onsite regional and mission critical mining/resources sector workers, border and air transport workers, and corrective services.
This group was to have their first dose of the vaccine by 1 December 2021 and are to be fully vaccinated by 31 December 2021.
The second round of industries to be affected by the mandate are deemed as ‘necessary workers’ in the delivery of critical services. This group includes retail, hospitality, childcare, schools, public transport, and building, maintenance, or construction services.
This group is required to have their first dose of the vaccine by 31 December 2021 and are to be fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022.
How does this affect the mining and resources industry?
The mining and resources sector employees approximately 141,000 workers, with an estimation of 60,000 being fly in fly out. These FIFO workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.
This public health advice is enforced to protect workers, aboriginal communities, and the wider community.
With the first doses due by 12:01am on December 1, 2021, there have been fears of mass loses in staff who have not been willing to participate. The numbers of workers who have refused have not yet be identified.
What advice is there for employers enforcing the vaccine?
As an employer, it is advised that you speak to your staff to understand their worries and help to answer any concerns they may have. In most cases, refusal can not be accommodated for, therefore compliance to the mandate should be strongly encouraged.
An exemption to the Public Health Order requirement will only be considered if a worker is unable to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for a medical reason.
Who is responsible of ensuring proof of employees’ vaccination?
In industries included in the vaccine mandate, it is the employer’s responsibility to collect proof of each individual worker’s vaccination status. It is important that retaining employee health information is managed in accordance with the Privacy Act.
Employers have the right to refuse entry to the workplace or refuse to allow an employee to commence work if they fail to provide evidence of their vaccinations.
Appropriate proof of vaccination includes:
- Online Immunisation History Statement
- COVID-19 digital certificate via the relevant State app
- COVID-19 digital certificate via the Australian Immunisation Register
- Medical contraindication certificate.
If you or your company need assistance to achieve compliance with the vaccine mandate, our team at PeopleStart are experts in all things HR, specialising in the mining and resources field.
We also encourage you to sign up to our HR Coronavirus mailing list so we can provide you with any updates regarding employer obligations.