Additional Melbourne vaccination requirementsOctober 26, 2021
The Victorian Government has effectively extended the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions for another month by revoking Directions No 4 and commencing Directions No 5 as of 11:59 PM on 21 October 2021.
The Victorian Government also released the Open Premises Directions (No 2), effective as of 11:59 PM on 23 October 2021, which imposes additional vaccination requirements on operators, workers and patrons.
What do the Open Premises Directions say?
Under the Open Premise Directions, operators of certain premises (“open premises”) must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a patron aged 16 years or older who is not fully vaccinated, does not have a medical exemption or cannot provide acceptable evidence of either, does not enter or remain on the premises. Workers must be fully vaccinated or hold a valid medical exemption to work at an open premises. There are also further non-vaccination-related requirements including patron limits, prohibitions on indoor and outdoor dancefloors, an obligation for food and drink premises to ensure patrons are seated other than when entering/leaving, making an order or accessing a bathroom, and designated COVID Check-in Marshals.
There are exceptions for several specified premises and functions, including but not limited to:
- Where the open premises is being operated for a wedding, the two persons being married, the authorised celebrant and a photographer will not be included in the patron limits;
- Vaccination requirements don’t apply to:
- accommodation premises, if additional requirements such as density quotients, non-sharing of bedrooms by patrons under different bookings and between-booking cleanings are met;
- a food and drink premises operated only for the purpose of providing take-away/delivery food and drinks;
- essential or general retail premises (noting that general retail premises in metropolitan Melbourne may only operate contactless click-and-collect or delivery services, or in an outdoor space with density limits).
These are only some examples, and businesses should check the full directions or call us for advice on their particular circumstances.
“Closed premises”, being gaming machine premises and brothels/sexually explicit venues in metropolitan Melbourne, must not operate at all.
What do the Workers Directions say?
The Directions provide that the following information must be collected:
If a worker is, or may be, scheduled to work outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence after 15 October 2021, the employer of the worker must collect, record, and hold vaccination information about the worker.
Vaccination information is information about a person’s vaccination status and includes information that is derived from a record of information that was made under, or in accordance with, the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015.
Booking Information – partially vaccinated and unvaccinated workers:
- If the employer collects information that a worker is partially vaccinated, the employer must also collect, record and hold information about whether that worker has a booking to receive, by the second dose deadline, a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that will cause the worker to become fully vaccinated.
- If the employer collects information that a worker is unvaccinated, the employer must also collect, record, and hold information about whether that worker has a booking to receive, by the first dose deadline, a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that will cause the worker to become partially vaccinated.
Workers who fail to provide vaccination information will be treated as if they are unvaccinated.
Who is a worker?
The Directions operate to require all specified authorised workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. A worker includes both paid and unpaid workers.
The Directions apply to several industries, including, but not limited to:
- Accommodation workers;
- Agricultural and forestry workers;
- Airport workers;
- Care workers;
- Community workers;
- Emergency service workers;
- Entertainment and function workers;
- Funeral workers;
- Higher education workers;
- Manufacturing workers;
- Mining workers;
- Physical recreation workers;
- Professional service workers;
- Real estate workers
- Religious workers;
- Retail workers;
- Science and technology workers;
- Social and community ;
- Transport workers; and
- Veterinarians and pet/animal care workers.
The Directions provide that a business must collect vaccination information from 15 October 2021.
As of the date of this article, workers must be at least partially vaccinated (one dose) to perform work outside their usual place of residence, with their second dose booked before 26 November 2021.
Further, workers must be fully vaccinated by 26 November 2021. If they are not fully vaccinated by this date, they will not be permitted to perform work outside their usual place of residence.
In the event a worker is not vaccinated in accordance with the Directions, the business must not permit the worker to perform work outside their usual place of residence. This means that where a worker is unable to work from home, they may be unable to perform work at all.
The Directions provide that an employer of a worker must, as soon as reasonably practicable, inform each worker who is, or may be, scheduled to work outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence after 15 October 2021 that:
- The business is required to collect, record, and hold vaccination information about the worker; and
- The business cannot, after 15 October 2021, permit a worker who is unvaccinated to work for that employer outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence unless an exception applies.
There are, however, medical exceptions that apply under the Directions.
The Directions provide that a person is an excepted person (and therefore not subject to the minimum vaccination requirements):
- if the person holds certification from a medical practitioner that the person is unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical contraindication; or
- if the person holds certification from a medical practitioner that the person is unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine due to an acute medical illness (including where the person has been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2).
A certification as specified above is effective until the earlier of:
- the date specified by the medical practitioner; or
- the date six months from the date the certification was given by the medical practitioner.
Steps for businesses
Businesses should take steps to ensure compliance with the Directions. This includes:
- Notify employees of the requirements under the Directions to:
- Provide vaccination and booking information confirming their receipt of a first dose, and that the second dose will be administered before 26 November 2021
- Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 26 November 2021
- Actively engage with employees to encourage compliance with the vaccination requirements;
- Follow up employees to ensure they have provided vaccination evidence in order to perform work outside their usual place of residence;
- Advising employees that if they do not provide vaccination evidence, they will be treated as if they are unvaccinated. Employees who are unvaccinated or do not provide vaccination evidence will be placed on a period of unpaid leave. They may utilise paid leave entitlements, however, employees cannot access personal leave in such circumstances.
In the event an employee does not comply with the Directions, businesses are encouraged to seek advice with respect to options available which, may include, but are not limited to, ending the employment relationship.
If this information has raised any questions or concerns, please contact the team at FCB – we’re always here to support you.