The Western Australian Government has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for site-based and remote workers within WA’s resources industry.

The new government health directions will address the risks posed by movement of resources sector workers, including mining and oil and petroleum operations, to and from regional and remote locations in WA, with many sites and operations located at or near remote Aboriginal communities.

The mandate, based on the latest health advice, applies to any FIFO worker in Western Australia, in mining, oil and gas and exploration, visitors to these operations, as well as all resources sector employees who work at regional and remote mine sites and other mission critical operational locations including remote operations.

Workers must have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 1 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.

The move by the government to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for resources sector workers is not unexpected. The sector was classified as an essential service last year and the announcement follows similar mandates in other essential service industries including ports, transport, freight and logistics, healthcare and aged care.

What if workers refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

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

As an employer, it’s important to acknowledge and understand that workers may be apprehensive about receiving the vaccine. With the abundance of misinformation available 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.

How do I support my workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s vital to provide workers with clear and easy to understand information in plain language about the mandatory vaccination requirements. Being transparent as to the expectations of workers in relation to when, where and how to get the COVID-19 vaccination is imperative.

Managers should ensure all workers understand that the COVID-19 vaccine is free and appointments are easy to book. In addition, assisting employees to book their appointments and providing information on vaccination clinic locations, such as the new Perth Airport clinic, will help to support a smooth vaccine roll out within the business.

Employees need to know exactly what is required of them, and that there is a level of flexibility from their employer to facilitate receiving the vaccine. In addition, companies may wish to consider translating all communication to accommodate employees who come from a non-English speaking background to ensure the same level of understanding across the workforce.

Equipping management with the correct and most up-to-date information about the vaccine roll out is vital. 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 information. Adequately training managers and supervisors to field employee queries will help to alleviate uncertainty and misinformation amongst the team, and provide a clear and consistent message throughout the business.

Proof of vaccination

The government has made companies responsible for collecting and maintaining records of vaccinated workers, meaning business owners will need to look at implementing relevant policies and procedures in order to provide proof of team members’ vaccination status.

Businesses also need to outline the process where an employee has a medical exemption which prevents them from obtaining the COVID-19 vaccination, including the requirements of providing proof of the medical exemption as well as the deadline workers need to submit it by.

If you need assistance managing the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in your business including the development and implementation of relevant policies and procedures, get in touch with our team via the chat box here or give us a call on 08 6150 0043.

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