COVID-19 FAQ - Can my employer force me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

 
Whether your employer can legally require to you get the COVID-19 vaccine will depend upon the particular circumstances of your employment. An employer seeking to require an employee to be vaccinated against COVID-19 would likely rely upon public health orders, and/or the employee’s duty to comply with lawful and reasonable directions.

Public Health Orders

Similar to public health orders directing people to work from home, state and territory governments may make public health orders requiring vaccination of certain employees. Such orders would likely apply to high risk workplace or industries, for example requiring employees in hotel quarantine or aged care to be vaccinated. Currently, there are no public health orders requiring vaccination of employees.

Should such orders be made employers and employee will need to comply with these orders. Relevant employers would be able to require that their employees be vaccinated.

Lawful and Reasonable Direction

All employees have a legal obligation to comply with the lawful and reasonable directions of their employer. In some circumstances a direction to get the COVID-19 vaccine may be a lawful and reasonable direction.

A direction is likely to be reasonable where:

  • employees interact with people with an elevated risk of being infected with coronavirus (for example, employees working in hotel quarantine or border control), or
  • employees have close contact with people who are most vulnerable to the health impacts of coronavirus infection (for example, employees working in health care or aged care).
However, employers must still comply with Anti-Discrimination law, in issuing a direction to get vaccinated. Generally, it is unlawful for employers to impose a requirement upon employees that would have the effect of disadvantaging employees with a disability. An employee with a medical condition which prevents them from being vaccinated, may be able to rely on Anti-Discrimination law refuse a direction to be vaccinated.

Our FAQs and Factsheets provide information and general advice which is current at the time of publication. With government initiatives and legislation changing quite rapidly, we will continue to service our members by updating our information as soon as possible. We encourage you to visit our Member Portal for these updates or contact our WAS team for specific advice tailored for your individual circumstances on 1300 273 762 or at was@professionalsaustralia.org.au