Jab on the job: a new role for employers in the path to Covid-normal

After new directions from the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, businesses will now be able to vaccinate their employees at work. The COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Partners Program is up-and-running and will see offices and warehouses transformed into vaccination centres.

Governments and businesses alike are looking towards the future and are hoping for the economy to reopen as quickly and smoothly as possible. High vaccination rates will be key. Many businesses have shown they are willing to take this into their own hands: Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Deloitte Australia have already introduced varying rules requiring workers to be vaccinated, while the NSW and Victorian governments are enforcing their own mandates.

Eric Swift

The Federal Government assisting businesses to bring the jab to the workplace can be beneficial to both the employer and employee. People want to feel safe when they come to work – no one wants to worry about a colleague’s vaccination status while they’re trying to get the job done. It also creates ease and convenience for workers, by making appointments more accessible.

For employers in both government and private sectors, it’s a chance to help employees in a practical way. There’s also the added benefit that some uncertain individuals will feel encouraged by seeing their colleagues get the jab. It’s no surprise the Business Council of Australia has described the move as “a no-brainer”.

Workplace vaccination centres are expected to play a significant role on our path back to normal, with the government estimating that between 1 million and 1.7 million people will be vaccinated this way. This will be essential for reaching vaccination rates above 80 per cent. But with vaccinations coming to the workplace, businesses face challenges on how to operate and organise employees.

Technology will play a key role in how governments can aid employers managing employee and workplace safety. Solutions that are simple, seamless, and which empower workers, will be required. Vaccine management software is readily available for organisations and should be recommended – consulting and communicating with businesses will be the first steps. These solutions make vaccination scheduling and certification easy, in a trusted and secure way.

Leading global businesses have taken steps which Australian organisations can learn from. NTT Data, a global IT services company headquartered in Tokyo, joined a workplace vaccine program to vaccinate all its employees in Japan. With the right software in place, they were able to build the vaccine reservation, reception, and management system in just two-weeks, creating a seamless and efficient experience for employees and administrators.

Vaccine management software is readily available for organisations and should be recommended – consulting and communicating with businesses will be the first steps.

With more employers and governments now requiring employee vaccinations as a condition of work or office re-entry, employee access to vaccines will become critical. Businesses such as Qantas, SPC, and Telstra have all announced preliminary steps to ensure that front-facing workers will be vaccinated. In Victoria, the State Government has plans to enforce vaccination across a range of industries including construction, healthcare, hospitality, education, and childcare workers.

Vaccinations are fast becoming the norm in professional settings, with many businesses and government organisations already seeking vaccination status in the hiring process. These new requirements are expected to be effective in quelling future outbreaks, relieving pressure on healthcare systems and minimising future disruption to the economy.

As this evolves, it will become crucial for businesses and government departments to be able to store and organise this data. This will allow employers to have easy confirmation and assurance of the vaccination status of employees and to manage any exceptions, such as individuals who can’t be vaccinated for medical purposes. Uber, for example, has embraced Safe Workplace applications to reopen global offices, while supporting employee health and safety.

As [vaccinations become more normal in professional settings] it will become crucial for businesses and government departments to be able to store and organise this data.

The reality is that Australians demand a focus on workplace safety, for both employees and customers. As workplaces reopen, employees are concerned about their health, their privacy, and the ease of doing their work. Business and government leaders are looking for ways to balance these issues in a trusted and secure way.

Vaccine requirements in some workplaces look here to stay. For governments, it’s integral that they are doing all they can to support our path back to normal. For many, this will involve supporting the rollout of vaccinations in the workplace and new policies and systems to keep teams safe. By being on the front foot and ensuring that the right, readily available tools are in place, businesses can support this important task with minimal disruption to operations and their employees. 

Eric Swift is the Vice President and Managing Director, ANZ, at ServiceNow

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