9 August 2021

Probing the polls: Public Service dress codes and rewarding the jab

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Should we be financially rewarded for a COVID-19 vaccination? Photo: File.

As the Home Affairs wrangle over dress codes rolls on, it seems most RiotACT readers think that, at the very least, government should ask before mandating what staff can wear, even when working from home and meeting online.

The dispute, which includes a prohibition on sleeveless tops for women, even in the height of summer, is yet to be resolved. But readers have mostly voted with their feet, describing the idea as “ridiculous” and a demonstration that “Home affairs obviously have a lot on their plate! Talk about the big issues!”

We asked Should your employer have to consult with staff before mandating dress codes? A total of 900 readers voted.

Your options were to vote No, professional business standards need to be met. This received 37 per cent of the total or 329 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, especially if you’re working at home. This received 63 per cent of the total, or 571 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about receiving a vaccination bonus. ACT vaccination rates are ahead of the nation and supplies of Pfizer have been opened up to younger age groups as local uptake has been strong. Around 50 per cent of Canberrans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and almost a quarter of the population has been fully vaccinated.

That makes the ACT more likely than anywhere else in Australia to reach 70 per cent vaccination cover first.

READ ALSO ‘Threat hanging over us’: young Canberrans concerned about the impact of delta strain

But for a variety of reasons, vaccination rates elsewhere are lower.

This week, Federal Labor floated the suggestion of a $300 payment to every Australian who is fully vaccinated by 1 December, and there have been other suggestions around financial inducements.

The Grattan Institute proposed an $80 million lottery, paying out $10 million per week to 10 people from Melbourne Cup day. Everyone who has been vaccinated once gets one ticket. Anyone vaccinated with both doses gets double the chance. It’s not a novel idea: the US state of Ohio held a $5.6 million lottery.

While Treasury modelling puts the cost of Australia-wide lockdown at $3.2 billion per week, the government has pushed back at the payment model, describing it as an “insulting gimmick” and saying that the current crisis is “not a game show”.

Our question this week is: Is a $300 vaccination payment a good idea?

Your choices to answer are:

*Yes, it’s a small piece to get an urgent job done

*No, it’s a waste of public money and unnecessary

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Workplace dresscodes are archaic for the public service. They serve no purpose except for those who have face-to-face contact with the public. They’re also horribly one-sided, with much looser restrictions for women than men. I am required to wear a collared shirt and long pants with business shoes all year, while the majority of my office wears skirts (some well above knee-length), dresses, sandals etc throughout the year.

As for the vaccine payment, I was going to get it done anyway but I won’t say no to $300.

We had the COVID Supplement to assist those on unemployment benefit, perhaps we could have the COVIDIOT Supplement to assist those who choose to take money to get the jab.

Realistically if a public servant is not directly involved with the public but is in an office within a building then why wear business attire. Casual clothing particularly in summer months should be the norm. If some can wear jeans for genes day then that tire could be worn behind the scenes.

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