States such as NSW have mandated jabs for healthcare workers, teachers and police. All states and territories have required vaccination for aged care staff.
Ms Westacott said employers looking to make vaccination a condition of employment should consult staff and their unions.
“Qantas is a masterclass on this – they’ve done this extremely well,” Ms Westacott said, though its move attracted criticism from unions covering the company.
“So there are going to be circumstances where the risks are so high – health, aged care, very high-risk industries, essential services – where people are going to have to say, look, as a condition of your work you need to be vaccinated.”
ACTU secretary Sally McManus, who was appearing alongside Ms Westacott, walked a tightrope on mandatory vaccination but also seemed to stray from the peak body’s position throughout the pandemic that only jab mandates backed by a public health order are acceptable.
“It is a safety issue in the workplace and so in the case of other workplaces where there is no public health order, you have to assess whether or not someone who chooses not to get vaccinated poses a greater risk to the other workers and also to themselves,” Ms McManus said.
Pressed on whether companies should mandate vaccines on their own, Ms McManus said they should not, but added: “If it is the case that there’s really good reasons and there’s no other way of keeping everyone safe, well, they might then say it is a condition of employment here.”
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