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FWC rules that dismissal for refusing mandated vaccination is fair
At a time when businesses are grappling with what they can do with employees who refuse vaccinations that are mandated by public health orders, a majority decision of a full bench of the Fair Work Commission has provided some relief.
That decision upheld the dismissal of an employee by Sapphire Coast Community Aged Care for refusing to have a flu shot that was mandated by a public health order.
The employee claimed that she had a medical exemption but that did not stand up to scrutiny because the medical certificate was issued by a doctor who did not examine her and relied on her advice to him that she had had a previous reaction to a vaccination. On the other hand, the employer relied on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and public documents which indicated that adverse effects of flu vaccinations are rare and the fact that she might have had a reaction to a vaccine in the past did not mean that she should not have the flu vaccination.
In the original decision earlier this year, the FWC ruled that the employee could not perform the inherent requirements of her job without a flu shot.
The Full bench was considering her application to appeal which they rejected as they found that she didn’t have a valid medical exemption.
Clearly, this tells us that, subject to going through due process, if there is a public health order requiring vaccination of employees as a condition of working in the particular industry setting and an employee does not get vaccinated and does not have a valid medical exemption, the employee’s services can be terminated due to their inability to meet the inherent requirements of the job.
This obviously has ramifications for the construction industry in Victoria where workers are not permitted on construction sites without having at least the first COVID vaccination or providing a valid medical exemption.
We are hearing numerous reports from our clients about employees who are hesitant or refusing to get vaccinated and do not have any basis for a medical exemption.
Most employers we speak to tell us that they don’t want to sack anyone for not getting the jab but they might reluctantly be forced to do that with any employee who chooses not to be vaccinated. Many of these employers are small businesses often in regional communities where relationships go beyond just the workplace and so this is quite a stressful situation for employer and all of their employees.
If you need assistance in dealing with a situation such as this, give me a call on 0438 533 311 – your first consultation is free.
Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094
6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136
Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311
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