COVID-19 vaccines and your workplace rights

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

As national COVID-19 vaccination targets underpin Australia’s economic plan for re-opening, it’s important to know what your workplace rights are when it comes to being vaccinated.

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Can my employer ask me to get vaccinated?

The answer to whether vaccines are mandatory for certain workers is always evolving. Current updates are available on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website here.

Your employer may lawfully ask you to get vaccinated if:

  • You are a type of employee that must be vaccinated under an existing law 
  • Your workplace enterprise agreement or employment contract requires you to be vaccinated.
  • Your employer’s directive to be vaccinated is reasonable in all the circumstances

Employers must ensure that they are not breaking any anti-discrimination laws by requiring their employees to get vaccinated. If you want more information about anti-discrimination laws please check out our factsheet on discrimination.

Can I refuse to get vaccinated?

If you are employed in a role that legally requires you to be vaccinated, you may be able to refuse an employer’s directions to get the COVID-19 vaccination if you have a lawful exemption, such as a medical condition. If this is the case, your employer may ask you to provide evidence.

If you have been asked to get vaccinated but think you have a good reason why you cannot, we recommend speaking to your employer to explain your circumstances and to discuss other options available, which could include alternative working arrangements.  If you have concerns about an employer’s request in your particular situation, you can also contact us for free and confidential advice.

Do I need to provide proof to my employer that I’ve been vaccinated?

If you are employed in a role that legally requires you to get vaccinated, your employer may require you to provide evidence that you have been vaccinated. Ways to prove your vaccination status are set out on the Services Australia website.

Should my employer give me time off so that I can get vaccinated?

If your employer requires you to be vaccinated against COVID-19, they should cover your travel costs to do so and if your vaccination appointment is during work hours, they should also allow you the necessary time off work to attend this without losing pay.

If your employer does not require you to be vaccinated but you wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, you should discuss any necessary work adjustments or arrangements  with them that you may need to attend a vaccination appointment. This may involve requesting leave, changing a shift time or working from home the day of your appointment.

Usually, an employee cannot take sick leave to get vaccinated. If you feel unwell after your vaccination and are unable to work, however, you may be able to take paid sick leave if you are entitled to it. More information about paid leave entitlements can be found here.

Issues and disputes

If you are experiencing any vaccination-related issues in the workplace, you can contact us for free and confidential advice. 

You may also wish to visit our information pages on discrimination, getting fired and unfair dismissal and workplace bullying.  Additionally, you might like to check out the Fair Work Ombudsman page on Resolving workplace issues during coronavirus 

If you need more information or specific advice about your situation, please contact us here. Our services are always free and confidential.

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