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Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination

  • January 22 2021
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Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination

By Cameron Micallef
January 22 2021

Employees are being warned that they may need to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine or face possible termination, a lawyer has explained.

Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination

Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination

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  • January 22 2021
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Employees are being warned that they may need to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine or face possible termination, a lawyer has explained.

Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination

In a conversation with nestegg, Australian employment and industrial law barrister Ian Neil urged employees to get vaccinated if they work in a field where it is considered lawful and reasonable.

“Employees have an obligation to obey the lawful and reasonable direction of their employer, and in most cases it will be lawful and reasonable for employers to direct or require their employees to be vaccinated,” Mr Neil said.

He said that a person’s field of work will determine what is, in this case, considered “lawful and reasonable”. 

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“There will always be debates about the reasonableness about the requirement to get vaccinated, with the answer to that debate will depend in part on what sort of work the employee is doing,” he said.

“It is obviously much more reasonable for employees in care facilities or in hospitals, for example, to be vaccinated compared with people who work alone,” the lawyer explained.

Mr Neil warned that employees who refuse to be vaccinated could face dismissal from their employer.

“An employer can lawfully dismiss an employee who refuses to obey a lawful and reasonable direction, and we can expect to see that happening in the case of vaccines with people who say no to a vaccine,” he said.

Moreover, Mr Neil opined that those dismissed due to their refusal to accept the vaccine could face difficulty finding future employment. 

“For most employers, it will be lawful to discriminate between employees based on [COVID-19 vaccinations].

But, Mr Neil conceded, employees do have rights depending on medical circumstances or religion. 

“If employees can point to a medical condition that makes a vaccine unsafe, those sorts of conditions are a disability, and it’s unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the grounds of a disability.

“Some employees might be able to point to a religious or political objection to vaccinations. There are some aspects of vaccines that offend the rules of some religions, and it’s unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion,” he concluded.

Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination
Why employees could be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccination
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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