SPC chairman Hussein Rifai said the measure was to protect the broader community.“
Lockdowns are not a sustainable solution and the Australian economy needs to open up again,” he said.“
The Delta variant poses a significant threat to our people, our customers and the communities we serve – the only path forward for our country is through vaccination.“ As a company we believe it is the right thing to do and we must go further to minimise risk and to protect the people we care about from the Delta variant.”
Mr Rifai said all staff would be aided in their bid to get the Covid-19 vaccine and offered paid time off to get jabbed as well as “special paid leave” of up to two days for anyone who became unwell after their vaccination. The circumstances of workers who had a pre-existing condition and were unable to receive the vaccine would “be considered on a case-by-case basis”, he also said.
The move comes as the commonwealth considers incentives for people to get the jab, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealing lockdowns will continue until at least 80 per cent of the Australian population is vaccinated. About 16.1 per cent of Aussies are fully inoculated and 17.6 per cent of the population have had their first dose.
Health Services Union president Gerard Hayes said while the union was “enthusiastically in favour of vaccines”, they should only be mandated in extreme circumstances. “Mandates should be a last rather than first resort,” he said.
“Before we go down that path, the federal government needs to restore confidence in vaccines and incentivise people to get jabbed. People need to know that as vaccine coverage improves they will be able to resume more of their normal lives.“
Any employer who feels the need to go down the mandate path must first conduct a thorough and robust education campaign about the benefit of vaccines to avoid misinformation being spread by the anti-science anti-vaxxer brigade.”
Fair Work Australia said there were limited circumstances where an employer could mandate workers to be vaccinated. Those circumstances included whether a specific law required an employee to be vaccinated and whether an enterprise agreement or employment contract included a provision about requiring vaccinations.
“Further considerations may include whether employees have a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated (for example, a medical reason) and how protections for employees under anti-discrimination laws may apply,” a spokesperson said.