The Western Australian Government yesterday announced new directives requiring mandatory vaccination across a large number of industries beyond existing mandates for certain industries such as FIFO workers , hotel quarantine and residential aged care. The phased approach will mean that up to 75% of workers in Western Australia will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by 31 January 2022. Both employers and employees will face fines if they do not comply to these new health directions. The directives also extend the requirement to be fully vaccinated to employees working in essential businesses during any future lockdowns.
Mandated Vaccinations – Group One:
This group has been deemed as occupations with a high transmission risk, vulnerability risk or critical to the safety of the community. Individuals within this category must receive their first vaccination by 1 December 2021 and fully vaccinated by 31 December 2021.
These workers include:
- Cross-border freight workers (high and extreme risk locations only);
- Public and private hospitals and public healthcare facilities;
- Primary and community health;
- Onsite resources sector workers;
- Border and air transport;
- Staff working in or entering remote Aboriginal communities including:
- Mental Health;
- Drug and alcohol services;
- Child protection;
- Family and domestic violence;
- Aboriginal peoples;
- Community care services;
- Corrective services staff;
- Fire and Emergency Services (excluding volunteers); and
- Abattoirs and meat processing workers.
Mandated Vaccinations – Group Two:
The second group is industries and workforces deemed critical to the ongoing delivery of business and functioning of the community. Individuals within these industries will need to have their first vaccination by 31 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022.
These industries include those who work at:
- Supermarkets and bakeries;
- Restaurants, pubs, bars or cafés;
- Post offices;
- Hardware stores;
- Child care or family day care;
- Schools (note vaccination must be before Term 1 of the 2022 school year);
- Financial institutions;
- Critical infrastructure and services necessary for health, safety and welfare of the community, any person, animal or premises e.g. utilities and veterinary clinic;
- Petrol stations, truck stops and roadhouses;
- Public and commercial transport;
- Remaining port operations;
- Remaining commercial transport, freight or logistics;
- Hotels, motels or other accommodation facilities;
- Funeral or mortuary services; and
- Building, maintenance or construction.
In his press conference yesterday, Mr McGowan announced industry round-tables will be held before the public health orders are finalised, in an attempt to provide industry representatives with an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed orders.
Upon finalising the health orders, employers will be required to keep a record of proof of vaccination of their employees, with authorised officers running spot checks to ensure compliance is occurring. If employers are found to have unvaccinated staff working after the vaccination deadline, they are at risk of being fined up to $100,000.
Unless they have an exemption, employees will be required to both be vaccinated within the mandated dates, as well as provide their employer with evidence they have been fully vaccinated. An individual employee who fails to comply with the orders is at risk of facing a fine up to $20,000.
Further Lockdown Guidelines
In addition to the outline of the general mandatory vaccination groups and deadlines, further parameters for essential business employees working during a lockdown were additionally released.
In the event of either a lockdown or any similar restrictions in Western Australia, workers within the following industries must be fully vaccinated in order to attend work:
- Other click and collect retail;
- Bottle shop;
- Pet store;
- Critical conveyancing and settlement agents;
- Roadside assistance;
- Critical forestry;
- Critical primary industries;
- Critical factories, manufacturing, fabrication and production;
- Government or local government services where working from home is not possible;
- Some administrative services;
- Vehicle and mechanical repair service;
- Journalistic and media services; and
- Members and staff of Members of Parliament of Western Australia.
The fines for failing to comply with the direction will be substantial. Employers should act now to understand their obligations, consult with their staff and develop a vaccination policy.