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COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements – Statement of Intent for Victorian Public Sector Employees

This statement of intent outlines the expectations of the Victorian Government with respect to Victorian Public Sector employers consulting with their employees, and, if necessary, developing policies to mitigate the risk to health and safety posed by COVID-19.

Introduction

The Victorian Public Sector provides important services that are essential to the functioning of the Victorian community. It is essential that the sector, and the important services it provides and supports, can continue to be delivered safely. Vaccination against COVID-19 remains critical in limiting the spread of the virus within the workplace and community and continues to be strongly encouraged by the Victorian Government.

This statement of intent outlines the expectations of the Victorian Government with respect to Victorian Public Sector employers consulting with their employees, and, if necessary, developing policies to mitigate the risk to health and safety posed by COVID-19.

Policy Statement

In order to provide and maintain a safe working environment for their workers, Victorian Public Sector employers should consult with unions, health and safety representatives and employees to consider whether to require workers to have up to date vaccination status against COVID-19 to attend their workplace.

This position acknowledges that even with high vaccination rates in the community, there are still risks to public sector workers as:

  • The risk of transmission of COVID-19 remains in workplace settings.
  • Any public sector roles involve interaction with the general public.
  • Vaccines should reduce transmission. COVID-19 vaccines may prevent some degree of transmission because the vaccinated are less likely to acquire infection.
  • There is no known cure for serious cases of COVID-19.
  • ATAGI has recommended that all individuals aged 16 years and over receive a COVID-19 booster dose to maintain ‘up to date’ vaccination status. This booster dose is now recommended from 3 months after the last primary dose.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, all Victorian Public Sector employers have a duty, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain for their employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health and ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that other persons are not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the employer’s conduct.

An approach to the implementation of this duty is for Victorian Public Sector employers, subject to adequate consultation, to prohibit workers from attending their workplace unless they have up to date vaccination against COVID-19.

The Victorian Government considers that an up to date vaccinated Victorian Public Sector workforce would ensure critical services can be maintained and all workers can be provided, as far as is reasonably practicable, with a safe working environment. However, a decision by individual public sector employers to adopt policies requiring vaccination for workplace attendance would appear to be a decision about the measures to be taken to control risks to health and safety at the workplace or arising from the employer’s undertaking. As such it must be the subject of meaningful consultation with employees.

To address this issue, Victorian Public Sector employers should consult with their employees over whether they should introduce policies that workers only be permitted to attend the workplace if their vaccination status is up to date or they are medically excepted.

Supports for Victorian Public Sector employees to be vaccinated

Victorian Public Sector employees who remain unvaccinated or are not up to date, and who are not medically excepted, are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to minimise the risk to themselves, their colleagues, their families, and the wider community. More information on COVID-19 vaccines and bookings is available from the Coronavirus VictoriaExternal Link website.

All Victorian Public Service and Sector employees can access up to half a day’s paid time off for each vaccination appointment which falls during their ordinary hours of work, including for their third (booster) dose. In certain workplaces, onsite vaccination programs are also available. Visit Supports for Victorian Public Service and Victorian Public Sector employees getting a COVID-19 vaccination for further information.

Reviewed 07 March 2022

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