CANBERRA, AAP – Businesses would do well to follow Qantas’ model of requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
Qantas pilots, cabin crew and airport staff will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within three months.
The deadline for other workers, such as those in head office, to receive both doses is March 31 next year.
The airline believes this will not only safeguard staff but protect customers and the broader community.
Qantas will grant exemptions for employees who provide documented medical proof as to why they cannot be vaccinated.
Mr Morrison said while individual companies had to make their own decisions, and the government would not mandate vaccines, the Qantas move was commendable.
“They’ve come up, I think, with a fair and and well intentioned direction,” he told reporters.
“They’ve shown, I think, the right model about how you go about this.”
Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash held a virtual roundtable with 50 leaders from unions, employer groups and government to discuss the workplace vaccination rollout.
The leaders agreed to develop a plan which would include expanding vaccine access points and allowing workers to more easily take time off to get vaccinated.
They also called for greater consistency in state and territory approaches to public health orders and regulating work health and safety.
“It was clear from the discussion that participants are united in the goal to have as many Australians as possible vaccinated against COVID-19,” Senator Cash said.
She said the government’s position of voluntary vaccination did not detract from individual employers seeking their own advice and mandating if they have assessed that as the right decision.
The Fair Work Ombudsman presented its guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the key would be cooperation and consultation, not conflict.
“The biggest challenge right now is ensuring that we increase the supply of vaccines and that the government steps forward with a clear education campaign to encourage vaccination.”
Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox said the meeting cemented the view that businesses would have to get their own legal advice on whether mandating vaccines was “lawful and reasonable”.
“It will not be surprising if more businesses that are public facing or have workers in close proximity announce decisions to mandate vaccinations over the months ahead,” he said.