Posted November 3, 2021
With the incredibly high vaccination rates of over 95% in NSW and a general push for all Australians to be vaccinated, we felt it was worth reminding salon owners what their rights are around mandating vaccination and ways that they can deal with staff who are on the fence. The topic of mandated vaccines has a lot of emotions attached to it. As with most things in salon, the best approach is to speak to your team and make any decisions collaboratively with the senior leaders in your salon.
The long and short of it is having a vaccine is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our community against COVID-19. But what are the legal requirements? The starting point is to look at the workplace health and safety requirements every salon owner faces, including COVID.
Australia will open up to those who have not, or can not be vaccinated eventually. But until that occurs, there are a number of issues salon owners need to be aware of and ways to deal with them.
Workplace Health and Safety
Business owners have a legal responsibility to manage health and safety risks within their workplace. Employers have a duty under Work Health and Safety laws to eliminate, or at least minimise the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace so far as is reasonable.
Employers also have a duty to consult staff regarding COVID-19 risks and how these risks are to be managed within the salon. This includes the introduction of workplace policies relating to vaccination.
Safe Work Australia is a good starting point for salon owners looking to be more informed, because they develop policy for work health and safety and workers’ compensation.
It’s also important to note that workplace health and safety laws are regulated by each state making it hard to answer definitively whether all employees across Australia must be vaccinated.
Our partners at Ai Group recently conducted a national employer survey testing the pulse of business attitudes towards mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in workplaces has found more than half were in favour of some form of mandating.
Of the more than 700 companies surveyed earlier this month:
- 24% said they would like to mandate COVID vaccinations for some or all of their employees; and
- 27% said they would only like COVID vaccination to be mandated through a health order related to their industry.
A further 37% said they will ‘offer and encourage optional COVID vaccines’ while the remaining 10% were unsure or said it was not applicable to their workplaces.
It is clear from the survey responses that many businesses are looking to mandate COVID vaccination, and they will be closely watching those already moving in this direction and assessing what approaches and circumstances will be considered lawful and reasonable.
How to minimise the risks
As business owners we are required to minimise the risks of COVID-19 in our workplace.
To do this we must continue to implement all reasonably practicable COVID-19 control measures such as:
- ensuring your staff do not come to work when unwell (of any kind – no coughs, no sneezing, no
- practising physical distancing
- improving ventilation, where appropriate
- practising good hygiene
- increasing cleaning and maintenance, and
- wearing masks (where mandated)
Another way to minimise risk is to negotiate a new employment contracts that stipulate employees must be vaccinated. If taking this route, it’s advisable to get legal advice. Call the Hair and Beauty Australia Workplace Advice Line on (02) 9221 9911, which is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm AEST or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can lead a horse to water…
Based on current vaccination rates and projected growth, we can safely expect in Australia that at least 10% of our population will not get vaccinated – and that that could include someone you work alongside or who works in your salon. They may not be an anti-vaxxer – for some people there will be a genuine medical reason, and we need to take all of this into account.
If a team member is adamant about not getting vaccinated, despite workplace policies that you are implementing in your salon, then a more in-depth conversation may need to be had about the future of their employment if they do not want to abide by workplace policies. Again, we encourage all HABA members to call the Hair and Beauty Australia Workplace Advice Line on (02) 9221 9911, which is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm AEST or email on email@example.com.
It’s important to consider the whole vaccination conversation, from your clients to staff and suppliers, when working through revised workplace policies for your salon. It requires broad thinking and compassion from everyone involved. There will be state-level mandates which will handle part of the equation for salon owners in the short term but considering your future stance on vaccination for staff and patrons is important for salon owners.
There will come a time when Australia has hit its stated vaccination targets and all Australians are welcome in salons. This will create its own set of questions around which HABA will set out in our next blog.
Do you require further advice?
For information or assistance relating to workplace policies around vaccination, please contact the Hair and Beauty Australia Workplace Advice Line on (02) 9221 9911, which is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm AEST or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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