It’s been a tough 18 months of disruption and uncertainty, but with vaccination rates rising daily and the promise of freedoms on the horizon, many organisations may be thinking about building a COVID-19 vaccination policy.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what organisations must consider when building such a policy.
Follow the guidelines set by Fair Work
While many organisations in specific sectors already may already have mandated vaccines and have a policy in place to manage vaccinations – such as hospitals and schools – other organisations may not have needed to until now.
To get started on creating a dedicated policy, the best resource to use is the Fair Work Ombudsman. From here, you can learn what the policy should include, what should be avoided, and how to manage your employees’ vaccinations going forward. You should ensure that you abide by the guidelines such as workplace rights and obligations, resolving workplace issues and changes to workplace laws.
What is the advice for employers around vaccinating employees?
The COVID-19 vaccination is free and voluntary for all Australians aged 16 and over, with many states already opening up the 12 to 15-year-old age group. The aim of the government is to get as many people vaccinated as possible so that we can return to a level of normality that supports businesses reopening and puts an end to sudden lockdowns.
For business owners, the goal is to achieve a COVID-safe workplace, allowing for pre-pandemic levels of performance. Ultimately, the more of your employees that are vaccinated, the more you will help your state or territory reach the ideal target for reopening.
Beyond contributing to the first- and second-dose percentage targets, encouraging your employees to get vaccinated means you can create a much safer work environment for the entire team, not to mention customers and clients. After all, while there will likely be ‘COVID remnants’ for some time to come – such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing, sanitising our hands and checking in via a QR code – showing the world that your staff are vaccinated will give your clients greater peace of mind. What’s more, promoting your high vaccination rate may even encourage new business.
How to introduce and manage a COVID-19 vaccination policy in your organisation
For those organisations that identify requirements to monitor employee vaccination status or require regular COVID-19 testing, there are several business-specific elements to factor in before issuing a policy. In short, don’t be tempted to replicate a policy from the internet. Instead, ensure your policy is carefully tailored to your company’s needs. You may choose to seek legal advice.
To help get you started, here are three key things to focus on:
Identify what your policy will contain
The first step is to ask and answer key questions, such as: How do you intend to manage record-keeping of vaccination statuses? What privacy standards will be put in place? How will vaccination status impact employment pathways? What will your process be for managing vaccine refusals (whether on the grounds of medical, religious or ideological reasons)?
Gauge employee sentiment
Don’t underestimate the importance of gaining employee support and buy-in before rolling out a vaccination policy. The pandemic has affected everyone directly, in different ways, and the topic is contentious so should be treated sensitively.
It’s wise to circulate relevant information about the COVID-19 vaccine through various platforms. Business leaders and executives should also communicate the reasons why the business is mandating or strongly advising on vaccines, as well as how the policy will be implemented. Also, ensure the conversation is two-way and that employees have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
Record the information
It’s no good asking employees to be vaccinated if the organisation has no way of recording it. Without proof of vaccination, your business and customers may be a risk. It’s therefore crucial that you keep up-to-date records of your employees’ vaccination records, preferably in a secure cloud-based HR solution.
How can technology help you manage employee vaccination progress?
Fortunately, HR technology can help business to manage ongoing COVID-19 risk. ELMO’s new solution COVIDsecure enables employers to automate record keeping of the COVID-19 testing and vaccination status of the entire or targeted areas of their workforce such as location, department or even role, in a single, secure platform with strict access control measures. It provides HR and leadership with a powerful dashboard to provide a real-time view of critical information to assist with COVID-19 risk management.
Disclaimer: This document contains general information and is also not intended to constitute legal advice. If you need legal advice, we recommend you speak to a lawyer.
To view the New Zealand version of ‘How to Introduce and Manage a Vaccination Policy in Your Workplace’, please click here.
ELMO Software (ASX:ELO) is a cloud-based solution that helps thousands of organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to effectively manage their people, process and pay. ELMO solutions span the entire employee lifecycle from ‘hire to retire’. They can be used together or stand-alone, and are configurable according to an organisation’s unique processes and workflows. Automate and streamline your operations to reduce costs, increase efficiency and bolster productivity. For further information, contact us.