By Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association Executive Manager for Employment and Training Elisha Radwanowski.
Following the announcement on 1/10/2021 from the Premier, the Directions giving rise to the requirement for all Authorised Workers in Victoria to have at least one dose of vaccination by 15/10/2021 (or to have a booking for a first dose before 22/10/2021) and to have a second dose by 26/11/2021, have been gazetted into law. This wide-ranging mandate has implications for a variety of workers, including fuel wholesale and retail workers state-wide. With one only one week before the ‘relevant date’ all Victorian businesses need to understand the requirements, and communicate with staff in detail now.
The Premier announced on 1/1/2021, a vaccine mandate for all Authorised Workers including fuel retail, wholesale and admin staff) in Victoria will be subject to a vaccination mandate. All Authorised Workers will be required to have at least one dose of vaccine by 15/10 and second dose by at least 26/11.
The Direction applies to?
All Authorised Workers – in the fuel retail and wholesale space the specific sections are;
- Clause 9.21.a.iii – transport and freight workers (warehouse)
- Clause 9.21.a.iv – transport and freight drivers
- Clause 9.28.d.vii – petrol station worker.
The Direction applies from?
As per Clause 8.9 (and Schedule 1) the business cannot allow a worker onsite (this includes contractors and visitors) that has not provided a copy of proof of vaccination/booking/exemption – the business must keep a copy of the evidence of vaccination/booking/exemption and provide to inspectors on request.
The Directions detail three particular dates for each type of worker;
- Relevant date – 15/10/2021 – all workers must have vaccination or exemption, however Clause 5.3 provides for staff to work after 15/10/2021 provided they have provided the business with evidence of a booking that will occur before 22/10/2021
- First dose – 22/10/2021 – all workers must have vaccination or exemption
- Second dose – 26/11/2021.
What should businesses do now?
All Authorised Providers (including fuel wholesale and retail businesses) will need to;
- Set up a system for collecting vaccination/booking/exemption evidence from all workers (including contractors and visitors) ready to provide to inspectors, regulators and law enforcement on request
- Provide the required notice as per clause 5.6 of the Directions to all workers (see below for a sample letter)
- Collect the vaccination/booking/exemption evidence from all workers
- Address any workers who will not legally be allowed onsite (consultation up to show cause).
Sample communication letter
As you will have heard the VIC Government has announced a mandate for all Authorised Workers to be vaccinated – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/vaccination-required-protect-workers-and-victoria.
The mandate, that is made law through The COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions – https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/202110/covid-19-mandatory-vaccination-%28workers%29-directions.pdf , states that all Authorised Workers will need to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 15/10/2021 (or have a booking for a first dose that will occur by 22/10/2021) and have the second dose by 26/11/2021.
As an Authorised Worker this mandate applies to your work; [transport and freight workers (non driver) see clause 9.21.a.iii, transport and freight drivers see clause 9.21.a.iv, petrol station worker see clause 9.28.d.vii].
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 Authorised Workers are allowed at work if they have not had at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccination (or have a booking for a vaccination before 22/10/2021) after the relevant date of 15/10/2021 as per clause 5.6 of the Directions.
As is required by clause 5.6 of the Directions this letter includes the following required notification that “a) clause 4 obliges the employer to collect, record and hold vaccination information about the worker; and b) subclause 1 obliges the employer, on and after the relevant date, not to permit a worker who is unvaccinated to work for that employer outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence unless an exemption applies under these directions.”
We understand that these changes are happening quickly and that they can be hard to follow.
Please urgently provide evidence of your COVID-19 vaccination status (vaccine certificate/proof of vaccination) and/or vaccination booking.
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 15/10/2021 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 22/10/2021 and will receive your second dose before 26/11/2021 or have an approved medical contraindication as outlined in clause 10.7 of the Directions provided in a compliance medical exemption as per 8.6 of the Directions. 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.
General Guidance published on coronavirus.vic.gov.au/
“The vaccine mandate is intended to apply to all worksites and workers in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria who can leave home for work under the Authorised Worker list.”
“Authorised workers. Any person who performs work for the continued operation of an Authorised Provider.”
“Authorised providers are businesses and organisations that can open in Restricted Areas (i.e., metropolitan Melbourne and Restricted Area LGAs in regional Victoria) when there are only five reasons to leave your home, with an authorised worker being those individuals required to perform the essential tasks delivered by these businesses and organisations. Anyone on this list – even if it is not in a locked-down area, must comply with this requirement.”
“Authorised providers…a petrol station (including a petrol station that sells groceries).”
To help ensure authorised workers can receive their vaccine in time, the government is expanding the GP and pharmacy grant program and will conduct a walk up Moderna blitz from 4 October to 10 October at the following sites:
- Melton Vaccination Hub (Bunnings)
- Sunshine Vaccination Hub
- Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
- Royal Exhibition Building
- Sandown Racecourse Vaccination Centre
- Frankston Community Vaccination Hub
- Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre
- Dandenong Palm Plaza
- Former Ford Factor Campbellfield
- La Trobe University site in Bundoora
- St Francis Xavier College Officer Campus.
Victorians can also book a vaccine appointment through their GP or pharmacist where many more appointments are available. Victorian pharmacists are now also offering the Moderna vaccine, which is a safe and effective mRNA vaccine. In addition, this vaccine is now available at selected state sites for anyone aged 12 to 59, and GPs and pharmacies are providing both Pfizer and Moderna to all ages, including those above aged 59. To book a vaccination through state-run centres – or to see links for how to book at local GP or pharmacy – visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine.
Vaccine bookings – www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine.
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 email@example.com, it is free for members. ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see https://acapma.com.au/membership/ for more information.
Published with permission from ACAPMA.