Following on from the introduction of a Compulsory Vaccine Policy introduced by SPC and the updated guidance from the Fair Work Ombudsman QANTAS have decided to take a monumental step in introducing a compulsory vaccination policy for all staff.
Their frontline workers such as pilots and cabin crew will need to be vaccinated by 15 November 2021 and the remainder by 31 March 2021.
It is unclear at this stage whether a similar leave program to SPC will be introduced:
- 6 weeks to book their first vaccination
- Paid vaccination leave
- 2 days of special leave if they are unwell in the recovery of the vaccination
QANTAS have also utilised a staff survey as well as their business view around lockdowns and quarantining to take this step and introduce a mandatory vaccine policy.
The results of their staff survey found the following:
- 60% were already double vaccinated
- 77% had obtained one dose
- 4% were outright unwilling to be vaccinated
- 7% were undecided or unwilling to say
Keep in mind that a number of QANTAS staff have been stood down.
What are some of the implications?
There may well be a number of challenges to this decision by employees and employee advocates in particular around the objections to taking the vaccine that will likely flow and of course what steps QANTAS would take if their policy was not followed.
A snapshot of the possible implications are:
- Discrimination claims – treating an employee differently due to their political views, parental responsibilities, ethnicity or religion;
- Discrimination claims – on the basis of a medical condition;
- Inability to make a reasonable adjustment due to medical grounds and this explanation being challenged;
- Lack of consideration of medical grounds, information or medical conditions;
- Unfair dismissal claims – for termination of employment due to non-compliance of the policy and/or on the basis of discrimination;
- General Protections claims – on the basis of a number of the factors above which has a direct correlation to the injury of employment potentially via termination of employment.
With SPC and QANTAS now making these decisions Employers will now need to start considering their options in this regard.
Highly recommend reading these past two articles as a starting point: Fair Work Ombudsman Change their tune regarding COVID-19 Vaccines (a new 4 Tier System) and SPC Process their way to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all staff and visitors (8 challenges for Employers to consider).
Legal advice is highly recommended in this area. NB Lawyers – Lawyers for Employers undertake and offer an obligation free consultation – we are happy to help.
Jonathan Mamaril leads a team of handpicked experts in the areas of employment law and commercial law who focus on educating clients to avoid headaches, provide advice on issues before they fester and when action needs to be taken and there is a problem mitigate risk and liability. With a core value of helping first and providing practical advice, Jonathan is a sought after advisor to a number of Employers and as a speaker for forums and seminars where his expertise is invaluable as a leader in this area as a lawyer for employers.