10 Dec 2021
3 min read
10 Dec 2021
Retailers and other Essential Workplaces may engage contractors and others to do work on their premises. You might be asking whether you need to know if they are vaccinated.
We provide some guidance for landlords and business owners on:
Worksafe has the power to prosecute employers for failing to provide a safe workplace and therefore it is important that employers understand the risks and what compliance is required.
To date the only organisation to be prosecuted by Worksafe is the Victorian Government for failing to provide a safe workplace and other issues. This may prove to be the test case and set the precedent for other prosecutions against Victorian business owners in the future.
Vaccinations are a contentious issue. Some employees across industries are resisting the mandate and preferring to be stood down rather than being vaccinated.
Below, we outline some considerations for business owners, to clarify their obligations when engaging third party contractors and individuals onsite.
The construction industry are essential workers and all contractors are required to be vaccinated under the mandate set out by the Victorian Government here. Electricians are required to be vaccinated under the “utility or urban workers” banner as they provide “…services to support [the] ongoing provision and regulation of electricity…”.
Retail workers fall under the banner of “authorised workers” who are subject to the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Directions. Retail employees must be vaccinated.
If you are a retailer and engage contractors, for example security guards, they may be classed as “retail workers” as they work at or in connection with a retail facility, including a retail shopping centre. Therefore, you must essentially treat contractors the same as employees in respect of vaccination requirements.
If you engage contractors or individuals to provide “repair and maintenance services” they will also be considered “authorised workers” and must be vaccinated. If they are not vaccinated, you should engage a contractor who is to ensure that you are not in breach of your obligations as a business owner.
This can encompass anyone involved in cleaning services, IT services, critical repairs for emergency or safety connected with retail. This includes any individuals engaged as employees, volunteers, students on placement and contractors.
As of 15 October 2021, the mandate for “authorised workers” states that an individual must be able to provide evidence to that they have either:
For business owners involved in essential or authorised work they must enforce the mandate as they would with their own employees for onsite attendances.
Any individual, contractor or party you engage or who does work for you onsite, is an extension of your workplace. Therefore they are your responsibility.
In order to attend the site to complete any works, evidence that the individual has either received or is booked in to receive their first dose of the vaccine. Alternatively, evidence of a medical exemption signed by an authorised medical practitioner is mandatory.
This means you will need to reach out to all contractors ahead of time (before they attend at your premises) to check who meets the requirements under the mandate. This will alleviate any issues later, especially in the event of emergency works.
Until the mandate for vaccinations is repealed, Victorian businesses will have to be diligent with their record keeping not only for employees but subcontractors and others that attend onsite.
At PCL Lawyers our employment lawyers can handle a wide range of employment matters and disputes. We can provide tailored advice to employers on how to correspond and approach such sensitive matters such as vaccinations.
It is important that employers act to ensure they understand and fulfill their obligations in providing a safe workplace.
Contact us on 1300 907 335 or complete an online form and we will respond to you promptly.
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