Welcome back to all CCF contractor members impacted by the recent 2 week reset lockdown period.

It has been a challenging and difficult period for many of you but importantly, the Government has set a very clear roadmap to re-opening in the weeks ahead. I am confident all CCF members will play their part in adopting the Public Orders and Additional Industry Obligations placed in the Workplace Directions updated last night by the Chief Health Officer (CHO) in keeping our sites “COVID safe and Open”.

For ease of reference, I refer you to the following links on the Directions and Additional Industry ObligationsClick Here.

CCF has received many recent enquiries from members seeking advice and support in the handling of employees who have either not been vaccinated, or refuse to be vaccinated in accordance with the mandatory Directions issued by the CHO under his State of Emergency powers.

Specifically, CCF members have sought our advice on:

  1. If a construction worker is unvaccinated but they have proof of a vaccination booking after 2 October 2021, are they allowed to enter on site?
  2. If a worker is “anti-vax” and refuses to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, what should CCF members do with regards to stand down provisions?
  3. What constitutes a valid exemption as to why a worker cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination?  Is a note from a worker’s general practitioner sufficient or will there be further specific requirements?

In response to CCF members who have made these enquiries, and after considering the Directions, we advise that:

  1. if a construction worker is unvaccinated (that is, they have not had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine) but they have proof of a vaccination booking for after 2 October 2021, they will not be allowed to attend a construction site for work;
  2. where a worker refuses a reasonable and lawful direction to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and is non-compliant with the Directions, CCF members should consider directing the employee to take a specified period of unpaid leave of two (2) weeks. We consider this is a reasonable time to allow a worker to receive a vaccine, or explore their options around having a vaccine. CCF members also have discretion to allow the worker to take any paid leave during this time. In the event that the worker is still non-compliant with the vaccination requirement by the end of the specified period, and is therefore unable to attend for work at a construction site, CCF members may be able to take disciplinary action against the worker, up to and including the termination of their employment; and
  3. a worker will have a valid medical exemption from the requirement to be vaccinated, if they have obtained certification from a medical practitioner, noting that the worker is unable, due to a medical condition, to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine.  A medical certificate from a general practitioner will suffice as evidence of an exemption.

As a first step with workers who have so far refused to receive a vaccine, we recommend that a letter be provided to them outlining the requirements in the Directions, and directing them to book a vaccine appointment and/or provide evidence of a valid medical exemption. CCF has placed a draft copy of correspondence (template) that you can use in our CCF Member Portal and is only available for you to download. This draft document is exclusively for CCF member use only. To access the CCF Member Portal – Click Here.

Once you are logged in, the letter can be found under…

Member Resources > COV-19 Resources’ and is titled ‘CCF Victoria COVID-19 Vaccination Attestation Letter – Oct 2021’.

You will note that where you have a worker that does not comply with the direction to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this period of leave and cannot provide a valid exemption, it is reasonable for you to consider terminating the worker’s employment, where attending construction sites forms an inherent part of their role.

CCF trusts that this answers many of your queries. Should you require further advice regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our IR/HR Consultant, Peter Maguire (Ridgeline HR), at peter@ridgelinehr.com.au or mobile (0438) 533-311, as a valued CCF member. 

Not a CCF member and would like to access this and many other valuable industry resources?

Contact the team on 1300 DIAL CCF, or visit https://www.ccfvic.com.au/membership/why-join/