UnionsACT support government-funded paid leave for workers to get vaccinated

Lottie Twyford 2 July 2021 10
Felicity Manson, Clinical Nurse Manager and Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA at Canberra Airport precinct COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic.

Felicity Manson, Clinical Nurse Manager and Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA at the new Canberra Airport precinct COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

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.

Maddy Northam

UnionsACT President Maddy Northam agrees with their interstate counterparts. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

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.


READ ALSO: Look inside the ACT’s new Pfizer vaccination hub


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’.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA and Stephen Byron CEO Chief Executive Officer of Canberra Airport and the Capital Airport Group at Canberra Airport precinct COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA and Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron at Canberra Airport precinct COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

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.


READ ALSO: New data shows king car has iron grip on ACT roads


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.


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10 Responses to UnionsACT support government-funded paid leave for workers to get vaccinated
Joanne Jeanes Joanne Jeanes 9:50 am 04 Jul 21

just make it available at the workplace and at shopping centres or wherever its easy for people to get it

Jessica En Bee Jessica En Bee 8:34 am 04 Jul 21

Vax in the workplace similar to flu vax would encourage more to take it up and no need for more than 30 minutes away from work.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 11:29 pm 03 Jul 21

Anything that encourages vaccine uptake is a good thing

Alan Rose Alan Rose 10:04 pm 03 Jul 21

Everyone else seems to manage, why do they need anything special.

Sherbie Leo Sherbie Leo 9:39 pm 03 Jul 21

Vaccination centres have out of hours appointment times, including week ends. You don’t need half a day off.

Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 8:16 pm 03 Jul 21

Half a day? Must be going the long way.

Ray Ez Ray Ez 6:30 pm 03 Jul 21

Of course they support being paid not to work..that’s the only thing unions do nowadays!

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 11:28 pm 03 Jul 21

    No different to your work paying for your flu vaccine. It makes sense to encourage your staff to be healthy and safe

Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:50 pm 03 Jul 21

The government will do a sweetheart deal with the unions on this. It makes it a “win-win” deal because the unions will claim victory for the workers and the the workers will continue to vote Labor.

Futureproof Futureproof 12:40 pm 03 Jul 21

Public servants in unions wanting leave for vaccinations. What’s the point when they can skive off for three hour lunches and don’t take leave

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