Friday, 29 October 2021

Vaccination and university staff

The CPSU NSW has received many inquiries from members in universities seeking our views on vaccination.

In line with the public health advice, the CPSU NSW is encouraging members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We do however understand that some members are deeply concerned about vaccination and their health, and we are encouraging them to speak to their doctor and seek medical advice. A qualified health professional is best placed to advise on matters relating to the health and wellbeing of their patients.

We also appreciate that some members do not want to be vaccinated. We have sought legal advice from an employment law specialist in relation to the issue of mandatory vaccinations.

If a Public Health Order applies to employees employed in specific industries, then an employer will be justified in disciplining an employee who refuses to have a vaccination unless they have an accepted medical contradiction. The validity of the Public Health Orders has been recently upheld by the Supreme Court of NSW. The decision (a summary of which is attached HERE) is consistent with the advice we have provided to members who have raised concerns regarding the legality of mandatory vaccination.

In circumstances where there is no Public Health Order, an employer is able to direct employees to be vaccinated in order to perform work in their employment so long as the direction is lawful and reasonable. Recent decisions suggest that courts and industrial tribunals are likely to accept that an employer can give a lawful and reasonable direction to employees to be vaccinated at least where the employment involves interaction with vulnerable populations or gives rise of a risk of infection from COVID-19 and if the employee interacts with members of the public in their employment to any significant extent.

The CPSU NSW has, at all times, taken seriously the views of all members – those in favour and against vaccination – and has endeavoured to provide balanced and accurate information based on the best available advice.