COVID-19 Public Sector Support


COVID-19 Public Sector Updates

Western Australians look to the public sector to provide certainty and leadership. We are continuing to work with the government and public sector leaders on your behalf to maximise your health and safety as you go about the important business of making WA work. 

We also encourage all members to regularly check the wa.gov.au COVID-19 Coronavirus Information page for official notices.

NEW 

Updated government circular:


Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy

Based on the latest health advice, the State Government has today outlined an overarching mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy with a phased approach to a majority of occupations and workforces within Western Australia.

For more, view the latest government resources:


2021
2020

 

COVID-19 FAQs

When must I be vaccinated by? 

The Western Australian Chief Health Officer has issued a series of "Restrictions on Access" Public Health Directions requiring workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by set dates in order to enter specific worksites/ locations. These Directions and the dates by which they require vaccination are as follows:

**Group 1 “high-risk industries” (Partially vaccinated by 1 December 2021 and fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022)**
- Health Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions (No 3)
- WA Police Mission Critical Areas (Restriction on Access) Directions (no 3)
- Primary Healthcare Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions
- Community Care Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Fire and Emergency Services Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions
- WA Police Force Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Resources Industry Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2)
- WA Correctional Facility Entrant (Restriction on Access) Directions
- Residential Aged Care Facility Workers Access Directions (No 4)
- Air Services and Border Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (no 2)
- Exposed Port Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions (No 3)
- Meat Industry Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions

**Group 2: “occupations deemed critical to the ongoing delivery of critical services to the community”**

**Partially vaccinated by 1 January 2022 and fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022:**
- Education Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 4).

**Partially vaccinated by 1 January 2022 and fully vaccinated by 1 February 2022:**
- Remote Aboriginal Community Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Public and Commercial Transport Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2)
- Ministerial Staff Member (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Critical Government Regulator (Restrictions on Access) Directions.
- Critical Infrastructure Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions.
- Critical Businesses Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions.
- Building and Construction Industry Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 3).

**Partially vaccinated by 5 February 2022 and fully vaccinated by 5 March 2022:**
- Court and Tribunal Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions.

**The above Directions added to those already in force with earlier compliance dates:**
- Residential Aged Care Facility Workers Access Directions (No 4)
- Health Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions (No 3)
- WA Police Mission Critical Areas (Restriction on Access) Directions (no 3)
- Primary Healthcare Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions
- Exposed Port Worker (Restriction on Access) Directions (No 3)

**The Booster Vaccination (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2) have also been issued requiring all workers subject to a vaccination direction to receive a booster shot:**

- If already eligible on the date of commencement (7 January 2022), by 5 February 2022; or
- Otherwise, within one calendar month of the date the person first became eligible or by 5 February 2022, whichever is the latter.

A link to all current restrictions on access directions can be found at:
https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/covid-19-coronavirus-mandatory-vaccination

If you are unsure what direction you are covered by, please contact your Employer and seek confirmation on the applicable direction for you/your worksite.

here.

My workplace is not covered by a vaccine restriction on access direction. What should the Employer do to protect staff?

Currently, an estimated 81% of public sector employees are subject to a “Restriction on Access” Public Health Direction requiring them to be fully vaccinated in order to enter their workplace. Current Directions can be located here: https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/covid-19-coronavirus-mandatory-vaccination

95% of the WA population aged 12 and over have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Regardless, employees who work in the small percentage of public sector workplaces that do not currently have a vaccine restriction on access direction in place may have increased anxiety around their risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Your employer is required by law to assess occupational health and safety risks in your workplace - including any increased risk of COVID-19 exposure posed by contact with unvaccinated persons in the course of your work - and implement control measures as far as reasonably practicable.

These measures may include, but not be limited to, the following:

- Encouraging and facilitating access to staff vaccination
- Physical distancing measures (e.g. altered office layout, altered protocols for communal spaces, working from home, 50/50 staff on-site, protective screens).
- A ventilation strategy (which may include air purifiers and carbon dioxide monitors)
- Enhanced hygiene measures and cleaning services
- Enhanced mask-wearing requirements

If you have concerns that your employer is not discharging their duty of care for your health and safety in the workplace, you are encouraged to contact your CPSU/CSA Workplace Delegate and Occupational Health and Safety Representative in the first instance, who can assist you in escalating your complaint.

Under what circumstances might I be medically exempt from being vaccinated against COVID-19?

The only reasons you might be able to get a medical exemption from having a vaccine are if you:

- had anaphylaxis after a previous dose of a vaccine;
- had anaphylaxis after a dose of any component of a vaccine; or
- In rare circumstances where medical exemption cannot be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register, but an expert or experts approved by the Chief Health Officer have provided advice about the need for an exemption.

Please see the following HealthyWA link for more information: https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/sitecore/content/Corporate/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/COVID19-vaccination-program/Medical-Exemption-to-mandatory-COVID19-vaccination

You can also make an application for an exemption via your specific restriction access direction. See link for more information:
https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/covid-19-coronavirus-mandatory-vaccination

My employer is not allowing staff to work from home. Can they do this and if not, what should I do?

There is not currently any government direction or GSLR Circular in place that mandates public sector employers to facilitate work from home arrangements for employees. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s statement of 12 October 2021 supports all employees, including those at higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, to continue attending work with appropriate precautions in place where public health restrictions allow.

However, under clause 7 of GSLR Circular 6/2020, if an employee is considered a higher risk, employers are encouraged to work with employees to understand and appropriately mitigate any risks. This is based on medical advice, individual risk factors, and broader relevant circumstances, including the degree of community spread of COVID-19.

Some employees may wish to prepare a workplace COVID-19 action plan in consultation with their medical practitioner. Employers should support development of these plans, consistently with existing workforce risk management approaches, if an employee chooses to have one.

If you want to make an application to work from home, you should do so in line with your CSA Agreement as well as your working from home policy. This should be a written request to the Employer outlining your request to work from home.

If you have made an application to work from home and your employer has refused your application without reasonable grounds, you are encouraged to contact your CPSU/CSA Workplace Delegate in the first instance to support the escalation of your application.

Which restriction on access directions are currently in place?

As of 8 February 2022, the current restriction on access directions in place are as follows:

- Chief Health Officer Approved Form Of Evidence Of Covid-19 Vaccination Under Each Of The Restrictions On Access Directions Given Under The Public Health Act 2016 (WA) In Respect Of Covid-19
- Access to Quarantine Centres Directions (No 3)
- Air Services and Border Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 3)
- Booster Vaccination (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.2)
- Building and Construction Industry Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.3)
- Community Care Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.2)
- Court and Tribunal Worker (Restrictions On Access) Directions
- Critical Businesses Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2)
- Critical Government Regulator (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Critical Infrastructure Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Education Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No. 4)
- Fire and Emergency Services Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 3)
- Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 4)
- Leavers event area (restrictions on access) directions (no 2)
- Meat Industry Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2)
- Ministerial Staff Member (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Port Worker and Exposed Port Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.2)
- Primary Health Care Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2)
- Public and Commercial Transport Workers (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No.2)
- Remote Aboriginal Community Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- Residential Aged Care Facility Worker Access Directions (No 4)
- Resources Industry Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2)
- WA Correctional Facility Entrant (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- WA Police Force Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions
- WA Police Mission Critical Areas (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 3)

A link to all current restrictions on access directions can be found at:
https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/covid-19-coronavirus-mandatory-vaccination

Do I have to exhaust my Personal Leave before accessing COVID-19 leave, if I am diagnosed with COVID?

Government Sector Labour Relations have recently revised *Circular 6/2020 – Leave arrangements for COVID-19* to reinstate public sector employees' access to 20 days of paid COVID-19 leave in the event they are subject to a Government requirement to isolate or quarantine: See Circular 6.

The balance of available days of COVID-19 leave is reset to 20 days for each employee on 5 February 2022, irrespective of the number of days taken by an employee before that date.

Clause 2 of the revised Circular provides that on or after 9 February 2022, employees who test positive to COVID-19 can access COVID-19 leave before existing personal or sick leave entitlements.

In compelling circumstances, an employer may extend the number of days of COVID-19 leave available for an individual employee who is unable to attend work because of:
- testing positive to COVID-19, or
- a Government requirement to isolate or quarantine because of exposure or possible exposure to COVID-19 at work.

I am concerned that there are unvaccinated members of the public who enter my workplace. What should the Employer do to protect staff?

Many of the Restrictions on Access Directions currently in place require members of the public to provide proof of vaccination prior to entering venues including many workplaces: COVID-19 coronavirus: Mandatory vaccination.

However, some workplaces in the public sector do not currently require members of the public to provide proof of vaccination, as these are deemed essential services requiring public access regardless of vaccination status.

All employers have a duty of care to their employees under work health and safety laws in Western Australia. Appropriate measures must be put in place to protect the safety of workers at increased risk of exposure to the Omicron variant due to unvaccinated members of the public having access to their workplace. These measures may include the following:

- a ventilation strategy (which may include air purifiers and carbon dioxide monitors)
- enhanced cleaning services
- enforcing mask wearing
- facilitating access to staff vaccinations

If you have concerns that your employer is not discharging their duty of care for your health and safety in the workplace, you are encouraged to contact your CPSU/CSA Workplace Delegate and Occupational Safety and Health representative in the first instance, who can assist you in escalating your complaint.

What is the most up to date COVID-19 vaccination information from the WA Government for public sector workers?

What leave do I use to take time off to go and get my vaccination? What if I have a reaction to the dose?

If you are a public sector employee directly employed on a permanent or fixed-term basis, employers are allowing reasonable work time for you to get the vaccine. If you are a casual employee, your employer may allow you to get the vaccine during a rostered shift where it is operationally convenient. The CPSU/CSA are advocating for the provisions for casuals to be strengthened.

Once you have been advised that you are eligible for a vaccine, you need to speak with your line manager before making a booking. This will help your agency and your team ensure work and services continue. View WA Government FAQs for public sector employees.

Following the CPSU/CSA's advocacy in recent months, we are also pleased to announce that Government Sector Labour Relations (GSLR) have updated Circular 6/2020 - Leave Arrangements for COVID-19 to extend COVID-19 leave to people experiencing adverse reactions following a COVID-19 vaccination who don’t have personal or sick leave available. This is available to all public sector employees including casuals: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/revised_circular_6_-_february_2022.pdf

 

 

Could I be disciplined for not receiving a vaccine? 

A public health state of emergency has been declared under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) in respect to COVID-19. The Chief Health Officer is authorised as an emergency officer to exercise emergency powers while this declaration is in force. The Directions requiring workers in high-risk industries to be vaccinated have been made using these powers and have the force of law.

If one or more sets of Directions apply to you, your public sector employer is able to issue a “lawful direction” requiring you to disclose your vaccination status and to be vaccinated. 

If you do not provide your vaccination status and/ or do not agree to be vaccinated, you may be deemed to have disobeyed a lawful order, which can form the basis for the commencement of a disciplinary process or a serious misconduct allegation. 

A range of disciplinary action, up to and potentially including termination of employment, may apply.

Will I lose my job if a Public Health Direction applies to me and I refuse to be vaccinated?

If one or more sets of Directions apply to you, your public sector employer is able to issue a “lawful direction” requiring you to be vaccinated. 

If you do not agree to be vaccinated, you may be deemed to have disobeyed a lawful order, which can form the basis for the commencement of a disciplinary process or a serious misconduct allegation. A range of disciplinary action, up to and potentially including termination of employment, may apply.

Can I be forced to be vaccinated?

No. The Directions do not force anyone to be vaccinated against their will.  They restrict access of unvaccinated workers to workplaces for public health reasons.

The practical effect of these Directions is that they will require the workers to whom they apply to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wish to continue their employment.

A Public Health Direction applies to me that requires me to be vaccinated to do my job. However, I am unsure about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. What should I do?

Vaccines will only be available to Australians once proven safe and effective for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

We encourage you to look to official, reliable and verifiable sources, such as the Department of Health’s HealthyWA website, your local GP or medical specialist, for information and advice regarding COVID-19 vaccination.

What is the Union’s position on COVID-19 vaccinations?

The CPSU/CSA’s advocacy for members regarding COVID-19 vaccinations has to date been informed by the position of the peak union body in Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

That is, while generally speaking “…your work or workplace should not fundamentally alter the voluntary nature of vaccination”, in “…high-risk workplaces there may be a need for all workers in a workplace to be vaccinated to protect community health and safety. These are serious decisions that should not be left to individual employers and should only be made following public health advice based on risk and medical evidence”. 

Where mandatory vaccination requirements are necessary, the ACTU has called on them to be implemented through the use of nationally consistent Public Health Orders.