Coronavirus Update – 29 October 2021 Mandatory Vaccination and Access Restrictions in Western AustraliaOctober 29, 2021
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on 22 October 2021 the Western Australian Government issued the Primary Health Care Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (Directions) which sets out vaccination requirements and entry restrictions to primary health care facilities for unvaccinated primary health care workers.
What do the Directions say?
The Directions provide that:
- from 12.01am on 1 November 2021, a primary healthcare worker who is not at least partially vaccinated cannot enter or remain at a primary healthcare facility.
- from 12.01am of 1 December 2021, a primary healthcare worker who is not fully vaccinated cannot enter or remain at a primary healthcare facility.
- individuals who are not primary healthcare workers (or are such workers, but are not at the facility in their capacity as a worker – for example, as a patient) are not captured by these vaccination restrictions.
There are limited exceptions to these rules, including where the person is responding to an emergency (other than in their capacity as a primary healthcare worker) or is exercising a right of entry per an entry permit under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) or the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA).
Partially vaccinated means that the person has been administered with at least one
dose of a COVID-19 vaccine registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Fully vaccinated means that the person has been administered with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The Directions also set out the following requirements for collecting and storing information regarding the vaccination status of employees:
- primary healthcare workers must produce appropriate evidence in the approved form of their vaccination status where directed to by an emergency officer or required by their employer, or by the owner, occupier or person in charge of the facility;
- employers, owners, occupiers and persons in charge of such facilities must take all reasonable and lawful steps to collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status of all primary healthcare workers in the facility. They also must only roster on and allow vaccinated workers (per the above vaccination requirements) to work;
- if an emergency officer requests evidence of a worker’s vaccination status from an employer, owner, occupier or person in charge of a primary healthcare facility, it must be provided as soon as is practicable;
- vaccination status information must not be used or disclosed in any way other than to comply with the Directions, as permitted or required by law, for the purpose of compliance with employer directions restricting entry, or where the person provided the information for a purpose other than in these Directions; and
- employers must also protect the records they hold from misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.
Who is a primary healthcare worker?
The Directions provide that Primary Healthcare Workers include:
- a person providing health services at a primary healthcare facility;
- a student undertaking placement, registration or an internship at a primary healthcare facility as part of their formal education;
- ambulance officers;
- a person providing goods and services at a primary healthcare facility, including those engaged by third parties, including supplementary staff;
- direct care workers;
- administrative staff members including who provide administration, management or reception services;
- ancillary staff members including cleaners, laundry staff members, gardeners, people providing food preparation services, security officers and people providing maintenance services;
- a person providing lifestyle and social care including transport drivers transporting patients of the facility; and
- a person who provides commercial activities at a primary healthcare facility.
What is a primary healthcare facility?
Primary Healthcare Facilities include:
- general practices;
- health clinics, including those operated by specialists, nurses and allied health professionals;
- prison clinics;
- detention centre clinics;
- COVID-19 vaccination or testing premises;
- community health centres where health services are provided;
- Aboriginal health services;
- service provider offices or sites;
- mobile health vehicles;
- human pathology centres;
- human medical imaging centres;
- blood donation centres;
- dental surgeries and practices;
- research institutes attended by patients; and
- any other facility specified by the CHO.
Primary healthcare facilities do not include:
- healthcare facilities defined by the Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 3), residential aged care facilities defined by the Residential Aged Care Facility Worker Access Directions (No 4) or quarantine centres defined by the Access to Quarantine Centre Directions (No 2);
- private psychiatric hostels;
- health clinics that include residential premises, but only at the times health services are not being provided;
- premises where a sole primary healthcare worker is providing health services by telehealth and no patients attend the site;
- disability supported accommodation;
- Commonwealth Department of Defence facilities providing health services; and
- any other premises set out the CHO to not be a primary healthcare facility.
The Directions provide for a number of exceptions. Notably, a primary healthcare worker will be exempt from the vaccination and entry requirements where they produce evidence in the form approved by the Chief Health Officer where they are required to do so by the employer, or by the owner, occupier or person in charge of the primary healthcare facility of:
- a medical exemption; or
- a temporary exemption.
A medical exemption is defined as being a medical exemption recorded on the Australian
Immunisation Register and displayed on the individual’s Immunisation History
Statement. A temporary exemption means an exemption approved by the Chief Health Officer or
a person authorised by the Chief Health Officer for that purpose whether in relation to
an individual or a class of persons and subject to any terms and conditions specified in
Primary healthcare workers have until 1 November 2021 to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1 December 2021, in order to enter or remain at a primary healthcare facility.
Businesses should take steps to ensure compliance with the Directions, including:
- Familiarising themselves with the requirements and definitions in the Directions;
- Notifying employees of the requirements contained in the Directions regarding vaccination requirements and evidence requirements;
- Engaging with employees to encourage compliance with the vaccination requirements;
- Requesting employees provide vaccination evidence as promptly as possible to avoid disruptions in their ability to perform work;
- Considering placing employees who are unvaccinated or have not provided vaccination evidence by the required date/s on a period of unpaid leave or by agreement, paid leave. Personal leave will generally not be available where the employee is not suffering from an illness or injury that renders them unfit for work; and
- In the event an employee refuses to comply with the Directions, seeking advice concerning the potential options available which may include but are not limited to ending the employment relationship.
In the case of a contractor, advice should be sought as to the rights and obligations of the parties arising from the terms of the contractor relationship.
Please note this article applies only to primary healthcare facilities in Western Australia and should not be relied on for businesses in any other state of Australia. The information in this article is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change.
If this information has raised any questions or concerns, please contact the team at FCB – we’re always here to support you.