HRBC Forum Summary

February 2021: Mandatory Vaccinations and the Future of working from home

For the February Webinar of the HR Breakfast Club NSW Councils Edition, Gabrielle Sullivan of BAL Lawyers explored the issue of vaccines and working from home as an employer in 2021.

In opening, Gabrielle explored the current laws surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. The government policy is that the vaccination is voluntary, and the overwhelming majority of employers should assume they cannot require their employees to be vaccinated.

Employers owe a duty of care to their employees, and as such, employers are responsible for the elimination of minimisation of risks to health and safety so far is reasonably practicable. In a similar vein, employees owe an implied duty to obey lawful and reasonable directions. Gabrielle went on to touch on discrimination law, and exceptions of unjustifiable hardships and inherent requirements, and how vaccines may start to come into play under these frameworks. 

Finally, Gabrielle explored how employee and employer preferences are evolving, and work from home arrangements are changing the way we work. With changing working arrangements come changing work health and safety requirements that employers must be aware exist. In the post-pandemic world, it is important to consider how to best structure workplaces and working arrangements to suit both the employer and the employee.

To discuss employment concerns or your organisation’s work health and safety obligations, contact the Employment Law and Investigations Group at BAL Lawyers. Safe Work Australia require similar obligations under Work Health and Safety Laws.

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