UnionsACT has come out in support of its NSW counterpart in calling on the Federal and local governments to share the responsibility of funding half a day’s paid leave for insecurely employed workers to get vaccinated.
However, local business leaders say it should be more of a commonsense arrangement between employers and employees, and that business cannot rely on government alone for the vaccination rollout to progress slowly.
The idea of ‘vax leave’ was raised in NSW after an unvaccinated limousine airport driver was revealed to have been the source of the state’s growing Bondi cluster.
Unions NSW Mark Morey said in a statement that the blame must not fall upon the workers, but that it must become both easier and more attractive to actually get vaccinated.
As well as suggesting the NSW Government should introduce ‘vax leave’ for its own employees, Unions NSW said the Federal Government had a responsibility to fund a half day of pay so that insecurely employed workers could get the jab.
UnionsACT say they are in complete agreement with their interstate counterpart.
President Maddy Northam said they believe that the Federal Government must fund a half day of work for all insecurely employed workers to get vaccinated.
“UnionsACT also welcomes the ACT Government’s commitment to ensuring that their staff have appropriate time to travel to get vaccinated, get vaccinated and then recover from the vaccination,” she said.
She also said that the priority needed to be for insecure workers who don’t have any access to leave provisions, such as those labour hire or casual employees, but suggested all employers should be providing appropriate time for staff to get vaccinated.
Local business leaders in Canberra were in accord with the latter point about education, but were less convinced that either the Territory or Federal Governments should bear the responsibility of funding ‘vax leave’.
Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron described a need for a commonsense understanding between employers and employees.
“I have been vocal for some months that the only way out of this pandemic is through very high levels of vaccination.
“Business can’t just leave it to government to do it in isolation and while it doesn’t mean forcing them, it does mean supporting those who want to get vaccinated,” he said.
Mr Byron said a large part of this is through sharing information about when, where and how to get the vaccine, whether through a GP or a vaccination hub.
When it comes to the time off required to actually get the jab or book an appointment with a GP to discuss it, Mr Byron said what was really needed was an understanding between employers and employees.
“It’s not very complicated and it doesn’t take very long. I don’t think any employer is going to quibble with a member of staff taking an hour to go get the jab.
“Basically, any employer is facing the prospect of having their business shut down if Canberra is forced into a lockdown,” he said.
Canberra Business Chamber CEO agreed with Mr Byron on the point of business shouldering some of the responsibility regarding educating employees.
And, in light of the current lockdowns around the country, he says this point has even more resonance.
Keep up to date with the latest vaccine eligibility requirements at ACT Health.