Following the announcement on 15/9/2021 that the NT Government would require vaccination for some workers there has been speculation as to who the mandate would apply.  Today the NT Government has released the Direction that requires a broad list of workers be vaccinated.  This mandate requires that all covered workers have at least one dose of vaccine by 13/11/2021 and their second dose by 24/12/2021 or hold a medical contraindication exemption in order to attend the workplace with fines for businesses and staff applying for those that do not comply.

Requirement Recap

 What are the Directions?
The Directions have been published – https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1058346/cho-directions-no55-2021.pdf

 Who do the Directions Apply to?

The Directions apply to workers who fall into particular categories.  In the fuel industry the following categories apply to the common work roles;

  • Fuel Retail

Category 1 Workers who are likely to come into contact with people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID & Category 3 Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential goods security or supply, or logistics in the Territory
Clause 4.a and 4.d of the Directions

  • Fuel Wholesale (non driver)
    Category 3 Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential goods security or supply, or logistics in the Territory
    Clause 4.d of the Directions
  • Fuel Transport (driver)
    Category 3 Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential goods security or supply, or logistics in the Territory
    Clause 4.d of the Directions
  • Fuel Admin
    Category 3 Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential goods security or supply, or logistics in the Territory
    Clause 4.d of the Directions

When do the Directions apply?

The Directions require

  • First dose by 13/11/2021
  • Second dose by 24/12/2021

What should the business now?

  1. Businesses should reach out to staff again now that the Directions have been released – see sample letter below.
  2. Businesses should commence Vaccination Register to record information (see ACAPMA Vaccination Register templates for more information)
  3. Businesses should ensure that from 13/11/2021 staff, contractors and visitors (not customers – workers who are doing work at the site) are signing in and providing their vaccination status evidence (see the ACAPMA Vaccination Register templates for more information)

Sample Communication Letter

 Dear [name],

 As you will have heard the NT Government has announced a mandate for certain workers to be vaccinated – https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1058346/cho-directions-no55-2021.pdf

 The mandate, that is made law through the Directions, states that certain workers will need to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 13/11/2021 and have the second dose by 24/12/2021 in order to come to work, unless they have a medical contraindication exemption.

 As a [Fuel Retail/Fuel Wholesale/Fuel Transport/Fuel Administration] worker you are a [Category 1 and 3 / Category 3] worker and this mandate applies to you.

 The mandate is a law that has been put in place by the Government and it is a requirement of the law that the business ensure that no mandated workers  are allowed at work if they have not had at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccination by 13/11/2021 or a second dose before 24/12/2021.

 Penalties apply to the business and to the workers who breach this law.

 In order to meet the requirements of the law the business is required to collect, record and hold vaccination information about mandated workers and may be required to provide this evidence to authorities and third party businesses when your work takes you to a third party business workplace.  The vaccine register will record name, status, date status evidence was viewed and who viewed the evidence. This is in line with the requirements in clause 13-15 of the Direction

 We understand that these changes are happening quickly and that they can be hard to follow – for more information see; https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/stay-safe/freedoms-and-restrictions#/mandatory_vaccination_for_certain_workers

 Please urgently provide evidence of your COVID-19 vaccination status (vaccine certificate/proof of vaccination) and/or vaccination booking to your Site Manager.

 We are working with authorities and government to understand options any exceptions now, but given that the vaccination requirement is law you would not be allowed onsite after 13/11/2021 unless you comply with the Directions.  Providing required evidence to the business that you have had received at least one COVID-19 vaccination, have a booking for vaccination that will occur prior to 13/11/2021 and will receive your second dose before 24/12/2021 or have an approved medical contraindication is required as per the law.  If you are legally unable to be at the workplace to undertake your work your employment will be untenable due to inability to meet the inherent physical requirements of the role and you will be asked to show cause as to why your employment should not be terminated for same. 

 Kindest Regards

[name]

Mandatory Vaccination Q & A

If the government has mandated vaccination and my staff cant or wont get vaccinated do I fire them?

Each situation will need to be looked at individually, but broadly, when the government applies a requirement on employment that the employee cannot or chooses not to meet, then their employment will be untenable and the business could go through a show cause process.  As an example if the government made a law that in order to work in a school you must pass a working with children check, and there are staff at the school currently that cannot or will not pass a working with children check, then the employee no longer meets the inherent requirements of the role.

This medical contraindication certificate will cover those who cannot take the vaccine – they will be allowed to come to work.  The business should keep a copy of the certificate.

For staff who refuse to get vaccinated the business will have to assess if there is any other option for gainful work in that role that can be done from home, and if not then it would be appropriate to standdown in the short term and terminate in the longer term, staff who cannot meet the legal requirements of employment in that role.  Those that flatly refuse, and cannot be gainfully employed in their role without having to trigger the legal requirement, would be asked to show cause as to why their employment should not be terminated for failure to meet legal requirements of the role.

What does the Show Cause process look like?

ACAPMA is on hand to help members through the Show Cause process…but that is step 3, step 1 is to find out if the staff are, or are planning to get vaccinated…and if there are staff that are not willing or able then reach out to ACAPMA and we will guide members through the next steps.

Can my business mandate vaccination?

Businesses can mandate vaccination, it is possible, but it is problematic – see;  https://acapmag.com.au/2021/08/mandatory-vaccination-change/

More Information

For a copy of the Direction see; https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1058346/cho-directions-no55-2021.pdf

For general information see; https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/stay-safe/freedoms-and-restrictions#/mandatory_vaccination_for_certain_workers

Here to Help

 HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business.  They are provided as general information for you to consider and do not constitute advice.  You should seek further advice on your situation by contacting your legal advisor.  ACAPMA members can access resources and receive advice, guidance and support from the ACAPMA employment professionals via employment@acapma.com.au, it is free for members.  ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see; https://acapma.com.au/membership/ for more information.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
ACAPMA

 

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