COVID-19 Vaccination information – Workers

Workplace health and safety laws require persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to ensure your safety and the safety of any others in the workplace as much as they reasonably can. This includes minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

A safe and effective vaccine is just one part of keeping the community safe and healthy. To meet their workplace health and safety duties, PCBUs must also use other practicable controls to prevent the spread of the virus, which may include physical distancing, good hygiene and regular cleaning and maintenance, and making sure you and your co-workers know not to attend work if you are unwell. PCBUs must also comply with any public health directions (see COVID-19 coronavirus: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination information and COVID-19 coronavirus: What you can and can't do) that require vaccinations in specific industries.

This page provides information on your rights and obligations under workplace health and safety laws in relation to the COVID-19 vaccines. If you need information on COVID-19 and national workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. The Fair Work Ombudsman has information on workplace rights and obligations during the impact of COVID-19, including on COVID-19 vaccinations for workers employed in the national industrial relations system.

If you are employed under the WA state industrial relations system, there is information on employment issues relating to COVID-19 for public sector employees and private sector employees on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety webpage. This site also contains a guide to who is covered in the state and national systems.

Access to COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccination is an effective control to reduce the potential severity of COVID-19 illness. A range of vaccines are readily available in Western Australia. All workers are encouraged to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines help protect people by either preventing or reducing symptoms of COVID-19 in the person who has received the vaccine.

A vaccinated person may still unknowingly carry and spread the virus to others around them, including workers and others in their workplace. Because of this, PCBUs must continue to apply all reasonably practicable control measures to stop the spread of the virus.

See How do COVID-19 vaccines work? for more information.

Can my employer (PCBU) require me to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under workplace health and safety laws?

In Western Australia the rollout of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for most designated industries came into effect 31 January 2022. These requirements have been introduced under Public Health legislation, not workplace health and safety laws.

If you are a worker who cannot be vaccinated, and you work at a workplace or undertake tasks that require vaccination, you should talk to your employer/PCBU, health and safety representative or worker representative about your options. For information about your workplace rights, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. For information on employment issues relating to COVID-19 under the WA state industrial relations system, public sector employees and private sector employees can contact DMIRS. 

Can I be dismissed from my job or penalised if I decide not to be vaccinated?

In some cases, disciplinary action may be taken if there is a requirement for vaccination and you decide not to be vaccinated.

Whether an PCBU can take disciplinary action will depend on the individual facts and circumstances. To work out if and how a PCBU can take disciplinary action, PCBUs should consider the terms, obligations and rights under any applicable:

  • enterprise agreement or other registered agreement
  • award
  • employment contract 
  • workplace policy
  • state public health order.

While it may not be mandatory to be vaccinated in your workplace, the Western Australian Government is encouraging everyone who can to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you need information on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. The Fair Work Ombudsman has information on workplace rights and obligations during the impact of COVID-19, including on COVID-19 vaccinations. If you work under the WA state industrial relations system, there is information on employment issues relating to COVID-19 for public sector employees and private sector employees on the DMIRS website.

What do I do if I have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines?

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring Australians have access to safe and effective vaccines. Any COVID-19 vaccine can only be used in Australia if the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved it through its rigorous approvals process. The Australian Government Department of Health website has information on how the vaccine works and the testing and approvals process for its use.

If you have concerns about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, you should talk to your treating medical practitioner.

I am pregnant – can I be vaccinated?

A COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy has been published on the Australian Government Department of Health website.

I will not be able to be vaccinated because of a medical condition. What do I do?

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination is only one part of keeping the Australian community safe. Your employer/PCBU must continue to implement all reasonably practicable control measures in your workplace, which may include physical distancing, good hygiene and increased cleaning and maintenance, and your co-workers should not come to work if they are unwell – even if they have been vaccinated.

Your employer/PCBU must also consider whether because of your circumstances, particular working arrangements need to be put in place for you. They should take into account your specific characteristics, the nature of your workplace and the type of work you do. 

I am vaccinated. Do I still have to take other precautions?

Yes. A safe and effective vaccine is only be one part of keeping the community safe and healthy. It is important that you continue to take the following steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • follow the state public health orders and directions (see COVID-19 coronavirus: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination information and COVID-19 coronavirus: What you can and can't do)
  • don’t attend work when you are unwell, have COVID-19 symptoms or have been told to stay at home by health officials (e.g. you are required to quarantine or have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for your results)
  • do all you reasonably can to work safely, including observing controls your employer/PCBU has put in place for COVID-19, which may include physical distancing and cleaning procedures
  • follow training and instructions your employer/PCBU has provided to you (e.g. about how to wash hands thoroughly) 
  • ask if you’re not sure how to safely perform the work
  • when required, use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks in the way you were trained and instructed to use it
  • report any unsafe situations (e.g. a lack of soap in the bathroom) to your supervisor or to your health and safety representative, if your workplace has one.

Your employer/PCBU is required to maintain appropriate control measures.

Can my employer/PCBU ask me for proof that I am vaccinated?

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) states that, in regard to COVID-19 vaccination status, your employer (PCBU) “must only collect vaccination status information if the employee consents and the collection is reasonably necessary for your functions and activities, unless an exception applies”. Vaccination is mandatory for some industries or workers through public health orders or directions (see COVID-19 coronavirus: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination information and COVID-19 coronavirus: What you can and can't do) . Under such circumstances it may be reasonable for your employer (PCBU) to ask for proof of vaccination. The OAIC sets out the parameters around what information can be collected, handled and disclosed.

If you need information on COVID-19 and national workplace laws, go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. The Fair Work Ombudsman has information on workplace rights and obligations during the impact of COVID-19, including on COVID-19 vaccinations for workers employed in the national industrial relations system.

If you are employed under the WA state industrial relations system, public sector employees and private sector employees can contact DMIRS for information on employment issues relating to COVID-19. This site also contains a guide to who is covered in the state and national systems.

Am I entitled to workers’ compensation if I get COVID-19?

Under workers’ compensation laws you may be entitled to workers’ compensation if you contract COVID-19 while at work, regardless of how you contracted it. More information on workers’ compensation and COVID-19 is available at WorkCover

Mandatory vaccinations

In Western Australia the rollout of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for most designated industries took effect as of 31 January 2022. If public health orders apply to your business or workers, you must follow them.

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