Update: Mandatory Vaccination Directions

The Victorian Government has released the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions, which commence from 11:59pm on 7 October. A copy of these directions is attached.

These Directions apply to most industries, including to all hospitality workers in both regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne. A full list of industries that these Directions apply to is contained in Schedule 1 of the Directions. This includes accommodation workers, creative arts workers, entertainment and function workers, professional services workers and retail workers (which includes individuals working in food and drink facilities or bottle shops).

These requirements require that all workers within the relevant industries who are working outside of their ordinary place of residence must be partially vaccinated by 15 October, and fully vaccinated by 26 November, with some very limited exceptions.

These requirements will continue to apply after the lockdown ends.

The following obligations will apply to employers under these Directions:

1. Collecting vaccine information

Employers must collect, record and hold vaccination information for workers who are scheduled to work outside of their ordinary place of residence on or after 15 October 2021.

Where a worker is partially vaccinated, the employer must also collect, record or hold information about whether the worker has a booking to receive a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 26 November.

Where a worker is unvaccinated, the employer must also collect, record or hold information about whether that worker has a booking to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before 22 October.

2. No work outside ordinary place of residence

On or after 15 October, an employer must not permit a worker who is unvaccinated to work for that employer outside the worker’s ordinary place of residence.

There are exceptions to this if:

  • the unvaccinated worker has a booking to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 22 October, in which case the worker can be permitted to work outside of their ordinary place of residence; or
  • the unvaccinated worker was unable to become partially vaccinated before 22 October because they were in self-quarantine under the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions, and the worker has a booking to receive a COVID-19 vaccine within 7 days of the end of their quarantine period.

According to the Directions, a person is also an excepted person if the person holds certification from a medical practitionerstating that they are unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical contraindication or an acute medical illness. Any such certificate is effective until the earlier of the date specified by the medical practitioner or 6 months from the date the certification was given.

There are also limited exceptions that allow workers to respond to emergency situations or critical unforeseen circumstances, and to perform urgent and essential work to protect the health and safety of workers or members of the public or to protect assets and infrastructure.

These Directions do not yet specify the obligations employers must comply with on or after the second dose deadline on 26 November, but it is expected that employers will not be able to permit partially vaccinated or unvaccinated workers to work outside of their ordinary place of residence after this date, with limited exceptions.

3. Notifying workers

An employer must as soon as reasonably practicable after the commencement of the Directions inform each worker who is or may be scheduled to work outside their ordinary place of residence after 15 October that:

  • the employer is obliged to collect, record and hold vaccination information about the worker; and
  • the employer is obliged, 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 exception applies under the Directions.

New workers must be informed of this as soon as reasonably practicable as they are engaged by the employer.

Penalties for non-compliance apply under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

Separate requirements continue to apply to workers in residential aged care facilities, construction sites, healthcare facilities and education facilities under the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Directions.

Extension of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire Hotspot Declaration

The Federal Government has announced that Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will remain Commonwealth hotspots until 14 October. This ensures that individuals in these areas will continue to be eligible for disaster payments.

Changes to Mask Rules

The Victorian Government today announced that from Saturday, restrictions will ease to allow the removal of masks for the consumption of alcohol.

The Chief Health Officer has said that this change is a reflection of a push to more outdoor recreational activities including picnics.

Local laws will still govern where people can drink alcohol in public, however.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.