By Amanda Curatore
On 3 October 2021, the New South Wales Government released the Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021 (Order) effective from 11 October 2021. The Order provides clarity regarding the roadmap to a “COVID-normal” society and specifically includes the freedoms granted to fully vaccinated individuals. In addition, the Order details specific information regarding re-opening and rules which businesses are required to follow.
If your business has employees working in an NSW restricted premises, the team at HR Assured has developed a policy which is now available to our clients in the software. We highly-recommend that employers issue this policy your staff and that you also ensure they’re acknowledged by all staff (this can be done via eSS inside of HRA Cloud).
To help your business understand the Order and if it is classified as a “restricted premises”, we’ve written an in-depth article. Inside is everything you need to know about the Order and how this may impact your business.
1. Vaccination requirements
The Order states that the Occupier of the following premises must take reasonable steps to ensure that an unvaccinated adult is not on the premises:
- higher risk premises;
- business premises that are hairdressers, spas, nail salons, beauty salons, waxing salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlours or massage parlours;
- recreation facilities (indoor);
- public swimming pools;
- information and education facilities; and
- retail premises, but not critical retail premises.
For the purpose of the Order, a ‘higher risk’ premises includes:
- entertainment facilities;
- recreation facilities (major); and
- hospitality venues.
A retail premises under the Order includes (but is not limited to) food and drink premises, garden centres, hardware and building supplies, kiosks, markets, plant nurseries, shops, rural supplies, specialised retail premises and timber yards.
An unvaccinated person under the age of 16 years must not be on the premises unless they are accompanied by a person who is a member of the person’s household and are a fully vaccinated person. This point may have implications for businesses with employees under 16 years of age who are unvaccinated.
The Order provides that the above premises are closed to unvaccinated people, meaning an employee who is unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated cannot attend work on or after 11 October 2021 until such time as they either become fully vaccinated, or the Order is varied.
2. What evidence is required?
The Order requires that a person is required to carry vaccination evidence and produce that evidence if requested to do so by a police officer or authorised officer.
3. Vaccination evidence includes
- evidence from the Australian Immunisation Register that the person has had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine; or
- a medical contraindication certificate issued to the person.
4. Steps for businesses
Businesses should take steps to ensure compliance with the Order and includes:
- Actively engaging with employees to inform them of the requirements under the Order and encourage compliance with the vaccination requirements;
- Request employees provide vaccination evidence no later than 11 October 2021 in order to attend work on and after this date;
- Employees who do not provide vaccination evidence will be treated as if they’re unvaccinated;
- Employees who are unvaccinated or do not provide vaccination evidence will be placed on a period of unpaid leave.
If this information has raised any questions or concerns, please contact the team at HR Assured – we’re always here to support you.
Clients of HR Assured can contact the 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service any time.
If your business is not an HR Assured client, we’d like to offer you a no-obligation, complimentary 30-minute consultation call. Employers can speak to our friendly workplace relations consultants and seek advice about this new legislation or an existing workplace issue. You can arrange your complimentary consultation here.
Amanda Curatore is a qualified Solicitor at FCB Group (our parent company) and HR Assured. Amanda is highly experienced in providing workplace relations advice and assistance to clients in a wide range of matters including employment contracts, modern award interpretation, managing performance, bullying and harassment, terminations and managing risk.