Time For WA Mining Workers To Get The Jab
HLS LEGAL | November 12, 2021
By Megan Flower
On 2 November 2021, the WA Government issued the Resources Industry Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (the Resource Worker Directions) under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA).
Under the Resource Worker Directions, mining industry workers covered by the Directions will need to have been:
- partially vaccinated with at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by 12:01 am on 1 December 2021; and
- fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by 12:01 am on 1 January 2022.
Workers who do not comply with this timeline will be prohibited by the WA Government’s Resource Worker Directions from entering their work locations or from journeying to their work locations, unless they are an exempt person under the Resource Worker Directions.
Non-compliance with the Resource Worker Directions risks substantial penalties – fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for body corporates, imposed by the Magistrates Court following prosecution by the WA Chief Health Officer, or another authorised enforcement agency.
There are limited exemptions to the Resource Worker Directions.
For medical exemptions, workers will need to have a medical exemption recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register and displayed on the individual’s Immunisation History Statement. Workers can also apply to the WA Department of Health for temporary exemptions to the Resource Worker Directions.
The Resource Worker Directions are also subject to exemptions such as for law enforcement officers, emergency workers and those with valid entry permits under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) and the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA).
More to come
In light of the WA Government’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, businesses can expect that more directions under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) will be coming to implement further COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
There are currently mandates in place for workers in hotel quarantine, exposed port workers, the meat industry, residential aged care, community care services, fire and emergency services, mission critical areas in the WA Police, and parts of the healthcare system.
Matters for employers to be aware of
We recommend employers should implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy addressing how they will apply the Resource Worker Directions and any other applicable COVID-19 vaccination mandates in their workplace.
A COVID-19 vaccination policy should address issues such as exemptions from vaccination, record keeping of vaccination records, the Privacy Act and consequences for non-compliance by employees, contractors and visitors.
We also recommend employers consider consultation with their employees and contractors regarding the implementation of a COVID-19 vaccination policy.
Finally, we recommend employers should always seek legal advice prior to consideration of termination of employment of unvaccinated employees or terminating the contracts of contractors. This is a complex legal area, coupled with what has become the highly emotive issue of mandatory vaccinations.
If you would like to discuss, please contact Tony Smetana or Megan Flower on (08) 9322 5202.
This article is intended to be informative only and does not constitute legal advice. If you are concerned about your company’s circumstances, please contact us.