Employers in Victoria have until 10 August 2023 to destroy vaccine information that it collected as part of the COVID-19 Vaccine Information amendments to the OHS Act which were repealed last week which included provision for the destruction of private information on the amendments expiry.

In 2021 when the amendments were introduced it was in the context of the move from the Orders in favour of empowering employers to set policies and collect information required to manage the still heightened risk of COVID-19 based on the workplaces risk profile, but the expiry of the amendment means that the private vaccine information that was collected now needs to be destroyed.

WorkSafe Victoria noted it doesn’t apply to “employers that are permitted or required under other laws to collect, use, record, or hold vaccination information”.

“Employers are reminded that a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status is health information protected by other legislation” such as the State Health Records Act 2001, WorkSafe said.

“While COVID-19 is still circulating in the community and remains a risk that is greatly reduced by vaccination, the expiry of the amendments means that employers, other than in health care and other high risk industries, are confined to managing that risk as they do any other communicable disease and are no longer entitled to have, seek or retain information on a workers vaccination status”, explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.

“This does not mean that the employer can ignore the risk of COVID-19, rather that the controls available no longer include tracking vaccination status of workers”, continues Elisha.

“The expiry of this amendment to the Act is a timely reminder to all businesses in all jurisdictions to review their COVID policies, operations and controls and to adjust them within the systems and communications if required.  It is counterproductive to safe outcomes as well as faith and compliance with broader safety systems onsite for policies, instructions and requirements to be ‘on the books’ but not followed or implemented, than it is for policies to be updated to reflect the evolving nature of a community diffused communicable disease risk”, concludes Elisha.

Here to Help

Safety 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)
Executive Manager for Employment and Compliance