Business groups have been left frustrated and open to legal challenges after the Federal Government refused yesterday to offer protections to firms that opt to make vaccination against the Covid-19 virus mandatory. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Seven News that while public health orders had been made to mandate vaccines in certain industries, and that doctors would not be liable for recommending the vaccine, businesses would not be afforded such comfort. “We have a broad principle, [which is] that the vaccine is voluntary, not mandatory,” Frydenberg said. AI Group chief executive Innex Willox told ABC Radio that the Government’s stance leaves businesses high and dry, and left with the choice of not mandating the vaccine and risking exposure to the virus or mandating the vaccine and risking exposure to the courts.
“Some businesses are just going to have to take the punt as it were and mandate it. Then we’ll see the consequences through the court,” Willox said. “It will just get very messy.” The first business to try to mandate vaccinations in its own workforce, SPC, has been hit with an initial wave of resistance. The business has hit back at the ACTU secretary Sally McManus for stating that SPC’s decision, and mandating vaccines in general, is a slippery slope that could lead to any medical procedure being made necessary for employment. “A number of Australian businesses have required their employees to be vaccinated, for example, the flu shot, and to provide evidence of such as a condition of their employment,” SPC CEO Robert Giles said. “This is nothing new and must be viewed in the context of the Delta strain of Covid-19 which poses a new and unique threat to the safety of our staff.” While SPC was the first business to publicly mandate a ‘no jab, no job’ policy, several others have been vocal in encouraging and facilitating vaccination among their workforces. (Inside Retail 11/08)