NSW government to consider ‘no jab, no work’ policy as incentive to ease COVID-19 lockdown for businesses

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Fully vaccinated employees could return to work earlier than those who are not under a plan being considered by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Ms Berejiklian said the government was assessing a ‘no jab, no work’ policy, allowing employees to return to work if they have been vaccinated.

“We’re definitely trying to consider options that are more positive, to say classes of employees can go back if they’ve had the vaccination,” she said.

“I don’t want to rule anything or out.”

In a situation where a worker and customer were both vaccinated, rules could be eased by the end of the month.

“Potentially, if someone that’s providing a service is vaccinated and their client is vaccinated, we feel much more comfortable in relaxing that restriction on August 29,” the Premier said.

Employers are being urged to encourage their staff to get either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer jab, so those employees can go back to work earlier.

On Thursday, fruit and vegetable processor SPC became the first Australian company to mandate vaccines for all onsite staff and visitors.

“We really are calling for business and industry, help us get your staff vaccinated, even if they’re not allowed to work now, because chances are we can have them back sooner,” the Premier said.

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“Please put pressure on your staff to get vaccinated…we need you to help us.

“If people are keen to get back to work, get vaccinated.”

Some industry groups said they had apprehension about the potential requirement.

Sandy Chong, CEO of the Australian Hairdressing Council, said the industry had to respect that “not everyone can have a vaccination whether that’s for medical reasons or personal views”.

She said the group’s recommendation for the industry was to get vaccinated but “we understand that will not suit every worker”.

“My personal preference would be to have everyone vaccinated to create a safe workplace environment for all of our workers and clients. But we can’t guarantee every client coming in will be vaccinated,” Ms Chong said.

But she said she supported the idea as an incentive for workers.

“I think that’s a good policy and it’s good to encourage our workers to have vaccination if they can so they can return to work sooner.”

Stephen Ferguson, the CEO of the Australian Hotels Association, said the industry wanted to be part of discussions with the government before any policy was confirmed.

“We’re open to any suggestions, and this could be very well one way we can get business to get back to work,” he said.

Mr Ferguson said current regulations did not allow employers to require their staff to get vaccinated or ask patrons to prove their vaccination status.

“We can’t exclude workers who don’t want to be vaccinated,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The government would need to explain how this would occur if we admitted some workers back but we don’t have the legal work to say those not vaccinated are not able to return to work.

“We want to be part of the discussion going forward, we need to get legal questions sorted out first.”

Ms Berejiklian said the policy could be a potential incentive offered by the government to motivate more people to get vaccinated.

“We do want to incentivise people for getting the jab, in terms of occupations that might be able to go.

“The government is looking at incentives to make sure people are able to return to a level of activity at some point in time, in a safe way, and higher rates of vaccination give us those options.”

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(Original ABC Article)