Updated vaccination directions implemented by State Government
On 8 November 2021, the State Government updated existing vaccination directions and introduced new vaccination directions that has significant impact to councils across South Australia.
In particular, the following directions made pursuant to the Emergency Management Act 2004 (SA) will impact councils:
- Emergency Management (Healthcare Setting Workers Vaccination No 3) (COVID-19) Direction 2021 (the Healthcare Setting Vaccination Direction);
- Emergency Management (In-home and Community Aged Care and Disability Support Workers Vaccination) (COVID-19) Direction 2021 (the Community Aged Care Vaccination Direction);
- Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 42) (COVID-19) Direction 2021 (the RACF Direction).
Healthcare Setting Vaccination Direction
The Healthcare Setting Vaccination Direction prohibits a person from engaging in work or performing duties in a Phase 1, Phase 2 or Phase 3 healthcare setting from relevant dates if they have not received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Healthcare Setting Vaccination Direction has been updated as follows:
- Phase 3 healthcare settings have been introduced which include settings where chiropractic therapy and osteopathy services are provided by allied and scientific professionals in person to another person;
- Clarification has been provided in respect of settings at which services are provided by allied and scientific professionals which are predominantly used for another purpose or purposes – such as a home, school or sports centre. In these circumstances, the requirements of the direction are limited to the individual allied and scientific professional. This will apply to councils who operate aquatic centres or sporting facilities where allied health professionals such as physiotherapists may occasionally perform duties. The Direction has made it clear that administrative staff or, for example, coaches will not be subject to the Directions.
- A person will now also be exempt from complying with the vaccination requirements if they have an appointment to be assessed by a medical specialist, or have commenced an assessment with a medical specialist, to determine whether they have a medical exemption from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the Chief Public Health Officer will still need to endorse the exemption on that basis.
Community Aged Care Vaccination Direction
The Community Aged Care Vaccination Direction was newly introduced to capture ‘in-home and community aged care’ and ‘disability support’ workers. From 30 November 2021, those workers will not be permitted to engage in work or perform duties unless they have received at least their first dose of a vaccine and have evidence of a booking to receive their second dose.
An in-home and community aged care worker includes any employee, casual worker, subcontractor or volunteer who provides services on behalf of local government agencies to a Commonwealth funded aged care service or intensive disability support service.
The Community Aged Care Vaccination Direction also contains exemptions which may apply to employees, consistent with those exemptions set out in the Healthcare Setting Vaccination Direction.
If an employee provides the required evidence of an exemption to comply with the Community Aged Care Vaccination Direction (or other applicable direction), employers will need to undertake a risk assessment on a case-by-case basis and consider whether alternative duties can be provided. If no alternative duties can be identified, employers will need to consider how to manage the employee moving forward, having regard to their obligations under work health and safety and anti-discrimination laws.
While residential aged care workers have been subject to a vaccination mandate for some time now, councils that operate residential aged care facilities should also be aware that any person who seeks to enter the facility will need to be fully vaccinated from 6 December 2021. Similarly, there are some exemptions which apply which are largely consistent with those set out in both the Community Aged Care Vaccination Direction and the Healthcare Setting Vaccination Direction.
The vaccination directions imposed by the State Government are constantly evolving and councils need to consider which directions apply to their employees, or cohorts of employees.
In respect of employees who are subject to a direction to be vaccinated, it is the obligation of employers to collect and verify the vaccination information of those employees to ensure that persons who have not complied with the requirement to be vaccinated are not permitted to attend work.
The most appropriate way to manage vaccination directions in the workplace is via policy.
Should you wish to access a vaccination policy to implement in your workplace, please contact Sathish Dasan on +61 8 8210 1253 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Virginia Liu on +61 8 8210 1279 or email@example.com or Anastasia Gravas on +61 8 8217 1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.