Thinking | 25 January 2022

WA employers required to check booster doses from 5 February 2022

By Rosemary Roach

Despite an indefinite delay to the reopening of the WA borders, Saturday 5 February 2022 is still a significant date in WA. It marks the day that some WA workers will be required to have received their COVID-19 vaccination booster dose to enter or remain at the workplace.

From 5 February 2022 employers will need to carefully manage the dates by which many WA workers are required to have their COVID-19 vaccination booster dose.

Under the Booster Vaccination (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No 2) (Booster Directions) all WA employees who are covered by an existing vaccination direction are required to have an approved COVID-19 vaccination booster dose.

However, unlike earlier directions – which required vaccination by a single date that applied to all employees covered by the direction – compliance with the Booster Directions will depend on the specific date when the particular worker had their second dose of the vaccine.

Workers covered by a vaccination direction who were eligible to receive a booster dose on or before 24 December 2021, must have received their booster dose by 5 February 2022.

Workers who become eligible to receive a booster dose after 24 December 2021 must receive their booster dose within one month of the date that the worker first becomes eligible, or by 5 February 2022, whichever is the latter.

To determine whether a worker is eligible for a booster dose, regard will have to be had to the recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on the timing of a booster shot – which has moved from five months between the second dose and the booster dose, to three months. As such:

  • from 24 December 2021 (being the commencement date of the Booster Directions) until 3 January 2022, a person was eligible for a booster dose on a date that was five months from their second dose.
  • between 4 January 2022 and 30 January 2022, a person is eligible for a booster dose on a date that is four months from their second dose.
  • from 31 January 2022, a person will be eligible for a booster dose on a date that is three months from their second dose.

The Booster Directions provide that the date that a person first becomes eligible to receive a booster dose does not change to a date earlier in time should the ATAGI recommendation change after the person first became eligible. Therefore, if a worker first becomes eligible at the time when the recommendation was four months between the second dose and the booster, that will be the time period for determining eligibility for the purposes of the Booster Directions. The eligibility date is not brought forward to three months to keep up with the ATAGI recommendations and therefore bring forward the date that the worker must have the booster dose to comply with the Booster Directions.

Employers who are subject to WA vaccination directions will need to take steps to:

  • track when each employee is eligible for a booster shot (having regard to when each employee received their second dose); and
  • put in place a reminder system to ensure that employees have provided proof of vaccination by either 5 February 2022 (for those eligible for a booster dose by 24 December 2021), or within one month of becoming eligible.

Employers are required to keep records of worker vaccination status and ensure unvaccinated workers are not permitted to work. It is an offence for a person to fail, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any of the Booster Directions. This is punishable by a fine of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for the employer.

If you have any questions about how your organisation can comply with the Booster Directions, please get in touch with a member of our Employment & Workplace relations team.

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