Mandating the Covid-19 Vaccine

Are companies mandating the Covid-19 vaccine

2 September 2021

Google is one of the first companies in the corporate world to take a stance against COVID-19, mandating their staff worldwide to be vaccinated in order to return to the office. Following Google’s announcement, other large corporations, such as Facebook, have begun to follow suit.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, outlined that the mandate would need to be adjusted to adhere to laws and regulations in each of their locations, with exceptions for medical and other personal reasons. In Australia, The Fair Work Ombudsman has advised that companies are lawfully permitted to implement COVID-19 vaccination mandates however, it is up to the organisation to prove that their employee vaccination requirements are lawful and reasonable.

As the onus has been placed on each firm individually, we are seeing an array of approaches in the corporate world.

How are firms from varying industries in Australia navigating this?

With the NSW local government allowing workers from locked down LGA’s to attend a worksite only once they have received at least one vaccination, many people in these areas have been subjected to a de facto vaccine mandate. Though this has occurred, the larger construction companies have yet to enforce the vaccination in their workforces. With Mirvac’s CEO, Sue Lloyd-Hurwitz, advising that it is unlikely they will enforce a mandate. A possible solution that Lloyd-Hurwitz mentioned was onsite COVID testing of all workers across the industry.

Travel and Tourism:
Flight Centre CEO, Graham Turner, has no objections to mandating staff vaccinations, should it result in lockdowns being lifted and travel to resume. It was reported in the AFI that around 90% of the company’s head office staff have already been fully vaccinated.

Hospitality and Retail:
Through a national industry survey, it is clear that the hospitality industry has expressed their support in enforcing the vaccine. With Wes Lambert, CEO of Restaurant & Catering Australia informing that over 63% of businesses are in favour of a government or employer mandate.

The Retail sector have been less strong on their stance as Coles COO, Matt Swindells declaring that mandates were not on the company’s agenda.

Manufacturing and Mining:
Household brand and food manufacturing company, SPC have enacted a vaccine mandate amongst their employees to ensure they are able to safely continue their operations. Alternatively, similar to Coles, Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison stated they were hoping to secure vaccines to allow for the vaccination of staff onsite. It is believed offering the vaccination in this form will encourage staff to become vaccinated and remove the use of a mandate.

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