Australia’s Expectations of New Covid-19 Workplace Policies and Mandates

Read Savvy’s latest 2022 survey to find out Australia’s expectations of new Covid-19 workplace policies and mandates surrounding the no jab, no job.
Published on March 2nd, 2022
  Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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Australia's Expectations of New Covid-19 Workplace Policies and Mandates

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New research from Savvy reveals consumers’ experience surrounding the no jab, no job mandate. We surveyed 1,000 people to better understand how supported they are in their workplaces and their comfortability surrounding booster shots, lockdowns and expectations as new Covid-19 strains come out.

  • 56% of Australians say it is the responsibility of the government to enforce workplace vaccines and uniform the law across all states
  • Under half of respondents support employers mandating vaccines
  • 35% of unvaccinated employees feel respected and supported in their decision
  • 13% feel vaccines should only be mandated for high-risk industries
  • More than half say it should be their choice to get vaccinated, not mandated
  • 68% of Australians believe using incentives to encourage people to get the jab is bribery
Covid Workplace Survey 2022 - Savvy

Australians generally support mandatory vaccines in the workplace

Although the workplace mandates have caused great divides across the country, many Australians do agree with the no jab, no job policy. Under half (37%) say they support employers who need to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for staff and workplace health and safety.

Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory show the highest support at 48%, followed by New South Wales and Victoria (40%).

25% of the respondents are positive and confident about the policy, saying it is the most practical way to reduce the risk of disease transmission and reach herd immunity. Only 8% are somewhat positive, while 13% believe it should only be mandated for high-risk industries or settings where staff have to get the flu jab. These include health, disability and aged-care workers, miners, school and early childhood education teachers, and quarantine and transportation staff.

7% are extremely reluctant with the no jab, no job mandate and would rather lose their job than get the vaccine.

Vaccines are now the main battleground in beating Covid-19 disruptions. Currently, 45% of all respondents are triple jabbed. Victoria (54%) and New South Wales (47%) have the highest number of people who are up-to-date with their vaccinations.

35% have had their first jab and are booked in for their second, while only 11% have received both. 2% are waiting until there is more information about the risks and effectiveness of the vaccines before they get it.

In regards to the support Australians are receiving, 35% of unvaccinated staff say their employer has respected their decision and put measures in place to support them. However, 21% have not received any help from their workplace.

Despite the no jab, no job policy being implemented across high-risk industries, 12% of respondents say they have had adequate support and consultation, including options to work from home. This provides the unvaccinated or those who are still weighing up their options alternative work arrangements before losing their job.

How do you feel about the no jab, no job mandate for work around Australia? %
I generally support employers mandating vaccines for staff and workplace health and safety
Positive and confident: I feel it’s the most practical way to reduce the risk of disease transmission and reach herd immunity
Somewhat positive: No jab no job mandate is beneficial for keeping everyone safe
It should only be mandated for high-risk industries or settings where staff have had to get the flu jab eg: health/disability workers, teachers, mining, airline staff
Unsure: I don’t mind or am unsure either way
Somewhat reluctant: I am worried about it, but my job and/or fellow community is more important
Extremely reluctant: I would prefer to lose my job than to be forced to get vaccinated

Three vaccine doses rule expanded state-wide

Western Australia became the first Australian state to mandate Covid-19 booster shots in December. Only recently, the requirement has expanded state-wide to everyone over the age of 16. Australians will now need three vaccine doses to be considered up-to-date.

States such as South Australia and Victoria have already made the three jabs mandatory for workers in high-risk sectors like health care. 47% of respondents surveyed in Victoria feel very comfortable about mandating booster shots for all workers, while 13% of all respondents are not comfortable at all.

In Western Australia, 42% feel comfortable with Australians needing three jabs, 23% are somewhat comfortable and 15% are not at all happy about the decision.

Up until this mandate, being fully vaccinated has meant two Covid-19 jabs. Boosters have only been encouraged, unless you work in a mandated industry in Western Australia.

But having two jabs won’t cut it anymore.

Given the new rules, the term ‘fully vaccinated’ is shifting to ‘up-to-date’ with the current vaccines. This change in definition has left millions of people bumped into the “partially vaccinated” purgatory if they do not get their booster shot within six months of their last Covid-19 jab.

Whose responsibility is it?

Naturally, this has sparked debates about whether it is the employer’s responsibility to make Covid-19 vaccinations, including boosters, a workplace requirement or if it should be enforced by the Federal government.

56% of the survey respondents say only the government can take responsibility for making a vaccine mandatory. This would make the law uniform across all states.

21% think employers should exercise their own judgment and enforce as necessary, while 17% believe it should be a state-by-state decision.

In your opinion, whose responsibility is it to mandate workplace vaccines against Covid-19?

No Data Found

Western Australia is the first state to mandate booster shots for workers and more Australians may soon need three jabs to keep their fully vaccinated status. How do you feel about this?

No Data Found

Source: Savvy 2022 Covid-19 workplace policies and mandates survey

Workplace health and safety during Covid-19

When it comes to working with the virus, Australians seem supportive of their employer introducing tough safety measures. Whether it is vaccine requirements, tracking tests or vaccination status and regular temperature checks, the majority are on board.

Double vaccinations (or three in some states) is the top measure introduced in workplaces at 66%. Monitoring and maintaining social distancing between staff and visitors (64%) and providing staff with necessary PPE equipment (57%) are also actions employers are using to avoid risking their staff getting sick.

Only 29% are conducting regular temperature checks, while 10% of respondents say no safety measures are being used.

New South Wales (7%), the Australian Capital Territory (7%) and Victoria (8%) are the regions most behind in workplace safety policies, with staff saying no measures have been taken to transition to new ways of working post-pandemic.

Remote work becomes part of the permanent employment landscape

Remote work is now a permanent fixture in the corporate world.

Although the pandemic did not start the Work From Home (WFH) initiative, it has transformed how employers view flexible working environments and the benefits for businesses and employees. In these times of chaos, uncertainty and risk, WFH arrangements have helped staff be more motivated and happier. Some employers have provided employees a work from home stipend with which to buy necessary equipment, while others have required employees to pay their own way. For those short of cash, such as freelancers or those in the gig economy, putting it on the credit card or making use of a personal loan may be the best option.

Fully and partly remote work has increased as an effective safety measure. 37% of employers have allowed flexible arrangements and are experimenting with the hybrid model to balance the benefits of working from home with face-to-face collaboration. In the last 12 months, 33.5% of employees aged 35 to 44 have been working from home full or part-time.

47% of all respondents plan to keep working from home for at least part of the week once the pandemic is over, if their employer allows. Only 11% say their employer is not willing to support WFH arrangements now restrictions have eased, while 32% will continue to work from home full time.

Overall, employers have been encouraging remote work. 26% have asked staff to work from home where possible to ensure safer practises for all.

Research suggests a mixture of home and office work can actually be the best for productivity. Yet according to a study by The Economist in January, many managers still prefer people to be back in the office.

What happens when Australia reaches the 90% ‘fully vaccinated’ target?

The survey reveals 26% of Australians are quite comfortable with the Government’s legal ability to initiate a lockdown, despite some states already reaching the 90% fully vaccinated target. But since ‘fully vaccinated’ means different things for different people and areas, there is still uncertainty about expectations.

26% are quite comfortable with more lockdowns, while 16% are not comfortable at all. Only 19% are very comfortable and 23% are feeling neutral.

When push comes to shove

Vaccine hesitancy is still a very real problem for many Australians.

52% of respondents have strong beliefs about freedom of choice and say getting the Covid-19 vaccine should be an individual choice, not a requirement. Queensland, New South Wales and South Australians feel the most strongly about this.

37% are hesitant because they are concerned about the long-term side effects, risks and effectiveness of the jab. Some Australians do not believe it works (17%) while 20% have admitted a strong mistrust of the government, preventing them from getting jabbed.

Although pressure has worked for some, as life gets more limited for those who refuse, 68% say using incentives to get the jab for work is bribery. Cash grabs, paid leave, gift cards and other lures have been rewarded by employers to compliant staff. Tax credits are also a motivator, with 5% admitting it would prompt them to get jabbed. 19% remain undecided.

What comes next

More people are coming to grips with the fact Covid-19 is not going away any time soon. As Australia opens up and new, more transmissible variants emerge, it is essential the population receive boosters to enhance protection.

Other safety measures will also remain. 50% say they expect mask-wearing inside and outside to take place, while 40% want restrictions for only those who are not up-to-date with their vaccines. 21% expect snap lockdowns and social gathering restrictions, but 24% say it is time for Australians to learn to live with the virus without any mask-wearing or limits.

Employers can continue to support their employees by:

  • Allowing paid time off to get vaccinated
  • Supporting them with access to reliable and current information about the risks and effectiveness
  • Explore other options for alternative work arrangements for employees who choose not to be vaccinated or are not able to be vaccinated

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Australia's Expectations of New Covid-19 Workplace Policies and Mandates

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