The Government announced on 28 June 2021 that the COVID-19 vaccination would be mandatory for all residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility within Australia.

What that means is that all residential aged care workers will now need to be vaccinated from COVID-19 as a condition of employment, and will be required to receive at least their first COVID-19 vaccination dose by mid-September.

To facilitate the vaccine roll out amongst residential aged care workers, the Government has put in place a few important changes that will affect residential aged care facilities.

I manage a residential aged care facility – what does this mean?

It’s vital that business owners and managers are aware of their rights and obligations when supporting employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Current figures show that only a third of residential aged care workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, so implementing the roll out will likely have a significant impact on business between now and September, and even beyond.

A Government grant, aimed at assisting residential aged care workers to attend off-site vaccination centres and GPs, includes the following eligible expenditure:

  • A flat fee of $80 per dose for a casual employee going off-site for vaccination.
  • One day’s paid leave (at a rate of $185) for up to a quarter of a provider’s casual employees who become unwell after receiving the vaccine, where they do not have other leave entitlements.
  • Up to $500 per site to facilitate vaccination and may include activities such as transport services, arranging groups of employees to be vaccinated and any other reasonable expenses in order to encourage workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

What can I do to encourage my team to have the COVID-19 vaccination?

Although it is now a government mandated requirement for residential aged care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it does not mean that employees will automatically want to have it.

As a good leader, the first step is to acknowledge and empathise with workers who are apprehensive about receiving the shot. With all of the information out there surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, it’s understandable that some employees may have reservations. By firstly acknowledging that workers concerns are valid and listened to, it will open up the line of communication so that discussions can begin with those employees who are uncertain.

It’s vital to provide workers with clear and easy to understand information in plain language about the vaccine roll out. Being transparent from the get go as to the expectations of workers in relation to when, where and how to get the COVID-19 vaccination is imperative. Employees not only need to know exactly what is required of them, but also that there is a level of flexibility to allow them to receive the vaccine. It’s also worth seriously considering translating all communication to accommodate employees who come from a non-English speaking background to ensure the same level of understanding across the board.

Just as important is the why. In order for workers to provide elderly patients with the highest level of care, it’s important to protect patient health and safety through necessary vaccination. Continuously thank your employees for caring enough about their own health and the health of patients to get the vaccine.

Equip management with the correct and most up-to-date information about the vaccine roll out. As the first point of call for team members with a host of questions, it’s essential that managers are able to provide workers with important and necessary advice. Providing adequate training to management will help to alleviate uncertainty and misinformation amongst the team and provide a clear and consistent message throughout the business.

If you want more information on supporting mental health in the workplace during COVID-19, check out our article.

If you need assistance in implementing the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine roll out in your business, or want support with any other HR related matter, get in touch with our team via the chat box here or give us a call on 08 6150 0043.

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