Last week the Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced new Covid 19 rules requiring mandatory vaccinations for, he said, fly in fly out (FIFO) mining sector employees. He also said that the reasoning for the new rules was the safety of remote communities. I am aware that at least two large mining companies have advised their staff who work in Perth that they will be expected to comply with the mandate.
However as of this morning, 12 October 2021, the government has not released the new regulations which will presumably be made as COVID-19 coronavirus: State of Emergency Declarations, as have other measures such as mandatory vaccinations for health workers in the Western Australia; see for example
Self evidently, as a matter of employment law, the right of an employer in Western Australia to mandate Covid 19 vaccinations upon its workforce is controversial, and a complex legal dilemma for both the employer and an employee. For example it is doubtful that a local government can do so as a condition of employment of a gardener who has no material physical contact with other persons including the public at work, yet it is likely that it would be lawful for a local government to legislate such a mandate upon staff who interact with the public.
The issue of the legal implications of mandatory Covid 19 vaccinations in the mining sector will be determined very significantly by the express terms of the content of the formal declarations which are expected from the WA government within days. Will the mandate extend to all employees who do not work near or in a manner which can affect the safety of remote communities which the Premier used when announcing the measure, or will they apply to the employees of a metropolitan business which supplies products or services to the mining sector?
The answer has not yet arrived but is nigh!
** This morning I spoke with staffers at the Premier’s Office and the office of the Health Minister Cook to confirm that declarations on this issue have yet to be issued by government.