Must Read Vaccination Update for Employers

Published December 2021

Covid-19 is (unfortunately) here to stay and its many moving parts remain a challenge for businesses of all sizes in all industries.

Over the last few months, we have been helping employers navigate the many different public health orders, customer requirements, travel restrictions and their own decisions whether to make vaccinations mandatory (or not). We have helped our clients assess their risks, communicate with their teams, implement new plans and policies, introduce new contract clauses, and plan for the future.

With borders re-opening, restrictions lifting and the new Omicron variant making its way on to Australian shores, all employers should be acting now (if you haven’t already!) to ensure your risks are assessed, and there’s a plan as to how you will handle any unvaccinated employees and requests for exemptions. If action is not taken, you may find yourself exposed in future as the Covid-19 landscape continues to rapidly change.

Even if a business does not intend to make vaccinations mandatory, there should still be a plan and a level of commercial protection (for example, through contracts, policies etc).


The term ‘mandatory vaccination’ is being used frequently and it’s fair to assume that it means an employer is requiring all employees to be vaccinated – but this is not always the case – it does not necessarily mean a single, blanket rule for all employees.


There are many scenarios that could apply as an outcome of a risk assessment and consideration of your business’ requirements. The list below provides some examples of the situations we’ve been working through with our clients:

  • Some employees, but not all, are required to be vaccinated under a Government direction or health order;

  • Some employees are impacted by a customer’s direction to be vaccinated;

  • Employer requires vaccination only if being unvaccinated impacts their role (eg. Unable to travel, cross a state border, attend a customer’s site, attend sales meeting at a café etc);

  • All or some employees are required to be vaccinated at the employer’s direction.

 Every situation is different so you should take the time to thoroughly consider your position. We have prepared a 5-Step Guide to walk you through the process and prompt different questions and considerations to help you make an informed decision and get the process right contact our team for a copy.
Regardless of whether you intend to make vaccinations mandatory or not, we strongly encourage all businesses take action now:
  1. Assess the Covid-19-related risks and consequences in your business.

  2. Based on the above, determine your businesses expectations and requirements with relation to Covid-19 vaccinations.

  3. Consult with your team and document your requirements in a Covid-19 Vaccination Policy.

  4. Introduce new vaccination-related clauses into your employment contract and any contractor agreements.

Remember, it would be challenging to manage vaccination-related issues and disputes in the absence of a policy and suitable contract clauses.


Our 5-step Guide is your go-to resource to make an informed decision and get the process right contact our team for a copy.

Alternatively, if you are ready to introduce a policy and new contract clauses now, please contact our team to discuss your requirements. We are ready to roll to keep your business protected!

CAN I MAKE VACCINATIONS MANDATORY? (outside of Government directions)

Earlier this year, the Fair Work Ombudsman released guidance as to the circumstances in which it would be reasonable for an employer to make vaccinations mandatory (outside of government-issued directions). You can read the guidance here.


Initially, the general guidance was that outside of a Government-issued direction or public health order, most employers should assume they cannot require their team members to be vaccinated. However, fast forward approximately 6 months and so far, we are seeing the Fair Work Commission upholding the decisions of employers to introduce their own mandates.

Ultimately, there is no black and white answer as to whether it is reasonable for a business to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory, however, it’s important to remember:
  • Consultation with your team is key when you’re working through the actions we listed earlier;

  • All businesses have workplace health and safety obligations to comply with (see more on this from Safe Work Australia here) – while we, the team at Edwards HR, are not workplace health and safety professionals, we can confirm that making vaccination mandatory for some or all employees may be an available measure to meet your obligations;

  • All businesses should consider any Government-issued directions and public health orders that apply to their circumstances, and endeavour to comply with them;

  • What is considered reasonable in one business may not be considered reasonable in another.


The team at Edwards HR is here to help with every step along the way contact us today for the HR expertise you need to navigate Covid-19. Whether it’s advice or preparing your employee communications, policies and contract clauses, we can help.


Regardless of the path you choose to take, and whether you employ your team members or engage contractors (or both), we recommend that all businesses urgently update their employment contracts and contractor agreements with vaccination-related clauses and introduce a Covid-19 Vaccination Policy, to ensure adequate commercial protection for your business.


To support clients with these recommendations, we have included our simple, fixed fees below (+GST):

  • Covid-19 Vaccination Policy – $695.00

  • Additional clauses (regarding Covid-19 vaccination) for Employment Agreement – $250.00

  • Additional clauses (regarding Covid-19 vaccination) for Contractor Agreement – $250.00

  • Bundle including all of the above $895.00 (saving of $300)


The drafting of these documents includes:

  • Taking a brief by phone to confirm your requirements;

  • Preparation of the draft document/s, provided in PDF format for your review;

  • A discussion or email exchange to clarify any matters arising from the draft and to confirm the final revisions required to the draft;

  • Making the final revisions accordingly;

  • Document provided in MS Word format ready for use (completely editable by you).


Note that clauses will be inserted in an appropriate position in your existing contract/agreement.

Contact our team today to ensure your business is protected.

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