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Guidance Please, from Canberra. For a reason that is unclear to me, the PM is unwilling to lead with clear guidance on vaccinations in the workplace, rather leaving it to employers like my fellow directors and me.

Do I express the view of many? We don’t know who is potentially vulnerable in our office, with underlying health conditions, to contracting Delta from another unvaccinated person. I suspect this is a stressor for many directors, CEOs, lawyers and corporate affairs professionals (and employees).

I don’t want someone to come back to work, after all the stress of homeschooling and the tedium of lockdown, to be hit with Delta. And we certainly don’t have the capacity to manage a court case over someone getting ill, or worse (the long-term effects of COVID appear unclear), because a carrier has infected the rest of our staff.

I need to do everything I can to minimise risk, and as a corporate affairs consultant, I need to advise our clients.

So far, we’ve advised aged care clients that have had COVID outbreaks, including the dreadful trauma of infected grandparents passing, and we’ve advised disability organisations, including one delicate communication process that led to ‘no jab, no job’ for staff.

The AFR has called for clarity this morning, the editorial opining that our leaders can remove “uncertainty by having workplace safety authorities or governments step in to clarify the legal right of employers to mandate the jab for staff in businesses with genuine health and safety reasons for doing so.”

Obviously, people need to be able to access the jab.

Already, we are seeing a mishmash of requirements (aged care but not disability; Sydney construction workers from certain LGAs). Almost every leader, and certainly every politician, has had it drummed into them by corporate or public affairs advisors that too many messages confuse, in this case, employees, employers, and the public.

Looking overseas, the conclusion is inevitable; vaccination will be compulsory to do certain activities, and many workplaces will make it a requirement.

Culturally, I believe people need to spend time together in the office. It’s also important for collaboration, despite the brilliance of Zoom meetings – difficult or sensitive decisions benefit from the dynamic of face-to-face debate.

In our office, we have desks for about half our staff at a time.

I also believe it’s important for mental health: most people need to mingle in the office and cafes; it simply wears most people down being forced to stay at home 24/7.

Would I be overly harsh requiring a ‘jab for an office job? Or am I simply reflecting on what others are thinking?

Michael Pelly’s piece in the AFR is the clearest summary of the legal position that I’ve read…

Michael Pelly’s article can be found here.

Author Peter Wilkinson

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