COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace
Published 26 January 2021 | Updated 11 May 2021
Employers and employees are looking for clarity on their workplace rights and obligations as COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccines become available in Australia.
In this section, we provide information and guidance on common questions about coronavirus vaccinations and the workplace.
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About our information
This website provides information and guidance about coronavirus vaccinations and the workplace. Employers and employees should consider getting legal advice about their own circumstances.
We’ve observed how well employers and employees have worked together to find solutions that work for their individual needs and workplaces throughout the pandemic. We encourage employers and employees to continue this collaborative approach when discussing, planning for and facilitating coronavirus vaccinations in the workplace.
In the current circumstances, the overwhelming majority of employers should assume that they can’t require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The Australian Government’s policy is that receiving a vaccination is voluntary, although it aims to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible.
However, there are limited circumstances where an employer may require their employees to be vaccinated.
Read on for more information.
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Updating our information
We’ll continue to update our information as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out in Australia. Our information will be guided by:
- applicable laws and judicial decisions
- enforceable government directions (such as public health orders)
- advice issued by relevant Commonwealth, state and territory agencies.
Other government agencies and departments can help with information and guidance on public health, work health and safety and discrimination issues. Please see COVID-19 vaccinations: resolving workplace issues.
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Current state and territory public health orders requiring employees to be vaccinated
In late March 2021, the Queensland Government issued a public health direction mandating coronavirus vaccination for some workers. The direction was issued on 31 March 2021 and affects:
- health service employees
- Queensland Ambulance Service employees
- hospital and health service contractors.
Read the public health direction at Queensland Government – COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Requirements (Contact by Health Workers with Cases) Direction .
The Western Australian (WA) Government has issued public health directions preventing quarantine centre workers from entering or remaining at a quarantine centre if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. The directions came into effect from 10 May 2021.
The directions affect those working within WA’s hotel quarantine system including:
- security personnel, cleaners and hotel staff
- medical and health staff
- ADF personnel and WA police.
Read the public health directions at WA Government – Access to Quarantine Centres Directions .
Some employees in WA aren’t covered by the Fair Work system. For information about the WA state system, visit WA Labour Relations – Guide to who is in the WA state system .
At this stage, only Queensland and WA have issued public health orders or directions enabling employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus. This may change. We will update our information if new public health orders or directions are issued.
For more information, see Can an employer require an employee to be vaccinated?
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Other government information
Australian COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Information about when and how vaccinations are being rolled out is available from the Australian Department of Health, including information about priority groups (and industries) and phases for availability. Visit the Department of Health website :
COVID-19 vaccine approval
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the Australian Government body that assesses any coronavirus vaccine for safety, quality and effectiveness before it can be supplied in Australia. Learn more at Information for consumers and health professionals .
Work health and safety
Safe Work Australia has information about coronavirus vaccines and work health and safety at COVID-19 information for workplaces .
We also encourage you to monitor for information and updates from your relevant Commonwealth, state or territory work health and safety regulators. Find your Commonwealth, state or territory work health and safety regulator.
Public health directions
Queensland Government – COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Requirements (Contact by Health Workers with Cases) Direction .
Western Australian Government
WA Government – Access to Quarantine Centres Directions .
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