Businesses want clarity, but Scott Morrison settles for waffles and refuses to give it away. Is it because he’s afraid of his own backseat?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP / Steve Vitt)

One of the most important and potentially conflicting issues in the transition to “living with COVID” is the willingness of businesses outside the immediate health and care professions to demand that their workers be vaccinated.

Food maker SPC has decided to take the lead with a vaccine mandate due to go into effect within the next two months for its workers. Its legal authority to do so, however, is disputed, and there is no clear opinion from the Fair Work Commission or Safe Work Australia. Safe Work Australia tells employers: “You must do everything reasonably possible to minimize this risk and vaccination must be seen as a means to do so in the context of a series of COVID-19 control measures”, but “it is unlikely that a requirement for workers to be vaccinated will be reasonably possible.”

As Crykey forecasts – albeit in a much shorter time frame than expected – companies are asking for clarification from the government on what they rightly call a “gray area.” Industry SPCs can afford worker or union litigation, but small businesses can’t and need something a little better than “is unlikely.”

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