Kyabram Free Press

Workers quit over mandate

- By Rohan Aldous

Reports of workers in the Shire of Campaspe quitting rather than bowing to the state government’s authorised worker vaccine mandate have surfaced since Friday’s implementa­tion of the “no jab, no job“rule.

Campaspe employers now face a difficult task in dealing with staff who are refusing to abide by Victorian Government COVID-19 vaccinatio­n regulation­s for authorised workers.

The first stage of the state regulation­s kicked in on Friday, October 15, when any authorised worker who did not tick one of four boxes, in relation to their vaccinatio­n status, was not allowed to work.

By November 26 every Victorian authorised worker must be able to provide their employer with evidence they have had two vaccinatio­n injections.

Maureen Kyne, who has been working with Campaspe businesses in her capacity as a workplace crisis strategist, said the coming month represente­d a challengin­g period for employers.

Ms Kyne, who is human resources and workplace relations expert, said her business had a real focus on how regional employers were dealing with the new regulation­s.

There is a $109,044 penalty for any business that permits an unvaccinat­ed authorised work employee to work and a $21,800 penalty for the individual who lies about their status.

She has been communicat­ing with several of the shire’s business groups in a bid to provide a better understand­ing of the rules for business owners.

There are particular challenges for big employers whose operations could be impacted by any significan­t unavailabi­lity of staff, or a sudden recruiting requiremen­t of untrained personnel.

Campaspe’s processing, agricultur­al and manufactur­ing businesses are among a new collective seeking more informatio­n on how COVID-19 working conditions could impact their businesses going into 2022.

But Mrs Kyne said the immediate danger for employers was handling their non-vaccinated staff members.

“As of October 15 the reality is all authorised workers in Victoria must be single-vaxxed, double-vaxxed, have a medical exemption or be able to prove they have a vaccinatio­n booking in place before October 22,” she said.

There have been reports from the education and constructi­on industries in Campaspe Shire that employees unprepared to fulfil one of these four criteria have walked away from their employment.

“I am aware of those scenarios where people are just quitting on the spot and walking off,” Mrs Kyne said.

“What employers need to be really mindful of is ensuring they are complying with employment law.

“When the government mandated this, two weeks ago, businesses should have started consulting.

“Who is vaxxed, who is not vaxxed, what type of informatio­n do you need and how to deliver that informatio­n.”

Ms Kyne said she was aware of several scenarios where employees were challengin­g the authorised worker vaccinatio­n requiremen­ts.

“I spoke with a gentleman the other night, who has 50-odd employees, and three from one department are refusing to be vaccinated,” she said.

"People are telling employers they can get a job somewhere else.

“I really do not believe this will be the case.”

Ms Kyne said she could see both sides of the vaccinatio­n argument, having had her own initial concerns with the process.

“Due to health reasons even I was a bit apprehensi­ve, but I went through a strong consultati­on process with my doctor,” she said.

“I would advise those with any doubts to do the same.”

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