COVID-19 vaccinations and businesses

Last updated: 16 December 2021


Employers should continually assess the health and safety risks to their employees and customers.

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This guidance has been prepared to assist businesses and is not a substitute for legal advice.

 

SafeWork has prepared guidance for employers about maintaining a safe workplace. Check SafeWork COVID-19.

Keeping your business COVID safe

Businesses are required to keep their premises safe and minimise the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Employers should continually assess the health and safety risks to their employees in their particular industry given the changing risk profile.

Asking employees about proof of vaccination

  • Employers can generally ask their employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or evidence of a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if collecting such information is reasonably necessary for managing work, health and safety risks. A NSW Public Health Order may also expressly authorise some employers to request that information and require their employees to comply with such a request.
  • Such information is “health information” or “sensitive information” under the various privacy laws that may apply to employers, so should be stored in a secure manner, not kept for longer than necessary and only used for the purpose(s) for which it was collected.

Refusing unvaccinated patrons entry

  • Public Health Orders may require certain businesses to take reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated patrons entering their premises. Exemptions will apply to persons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or because of their age to ensure that they are treated fairly.
  • Businesses that are not covered by a NSW Public Health Order may choose to refuse entry to unvaccinated patrons as long as they comply with their obligations under anti-discrimination and privacy laws. Businesses should not refuse entry to patrons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or because they are in an age group that has not had access to vaccination for very long (i.e. - under 16s).
  • When asking to see proof that a patron has been vaccinated or has a valid reason for not being vaccinated, businesses should generally inform patrons (either by a notice or verbally) why they are asking for that information (i.e. to manage work health and safety risks and to comply with any applicable NSW Public Health Order), whether a NSW Public Health Order requires them to answer that question, and who might be provided access to any record made of their responses.
  • If any business records are kept that identify the vaccination status of patrons, businesses should ensure the information is stored in a secure manner, not kept for longer than necessary and only used for the purpose(s) for which it was collected.
  • Businesses may wish to place signage indicating vaccinated and medically or age exempt patrons are welcome.
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