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NT COVID-19 hotline1800 490 484
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Employers / Workplace Operators

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is our best defence against the virus. As we work to implement the NT’s Roadmap toward COVID-Safe Freedoms, it is critical that we provide our community, our businesses and our frontline workers with protection and certainty as we start to open up.

    The Delta strain of COVID-19 is much more infectious and will make its way into the Territory. We cannot afford for people working in key industries to be struck down with COVID-19 and we cannot afford for there to be a COVID-19 outbreak in our remote communities. Our communities are vulnerable and our hospitals do not have the capacity to manage a Territory-wide outbreak.

    It is critical that our workers get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and all of the NT. Two doses of the vaccine gives you around 90% protection against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.

    Most states and territories in Australia have introduced vaccination as a requirement for certain workers. This is also in line with recommendations from the Australian Health Protection and Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the National Plan to Reopen.

  • Based on the advice of our health experts, the NT will require all workers to whom the mandatory vaccine CHO Direction applies, to have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 12 November 2021 to continue working in the same role. They will need to be fully vaccinated by 24 December 2021.

  • The employer or workplace operator is required to collect information about a worker’s vaccination status and keep a register of this as well as a record that evidence of vaccination has been sighted. A copy of the worker’s vaccination certificate or immunisation history only needs to be sighted, it does not need to be stored or filed.

    Information about a worker’s vaccination status will need to be provided to an authorised officer upon request.

  • Workers can show employers or workplace operators a copy of their COVID-19 digital certificate or their immunisation history statement as evidence of their vaccination status.

    Workers can also get their local GP to print a copy of their statement for them if they are unable to access their COVID-19 vaccination certificate online.

  • If a worker has not complied with the requirement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, they must not attend their normal workplace. If your staff are unable to attend the workplace, this may affect their employment.

    An employer or workplace operator is able to make alternative arrangements for a worker who has not complied with the mandatory vaccination requirement including working at an alternative location or in a manner which complies with the CHO Direction.

  • The employer can seek advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman website, which includes detailed information on COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace.

  • Exemptions to the CHO Direction mandating vaccination for certain workers are only permitted where the person is not able to receive an approved vaccine because they have a medical contraindication to all available COVID-19 vaccines and they have evidence of this.

    People who believe they have a medical reason for not receiving vaccination must apply for a medical vaccination exemption through their medical practitioner, such as a GP.

    GPs are authorised to record a patient’s permanent or temporary vaccination exemption to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) using the Immunisation medical exemption form (IM011). The ATAGI expanded guidance on temporary medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines supports decision making and documentation for vaccine exemptions.

    The medical practitioner is required to submit the Immunisation Medical Exemption Form to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). The exemption will be available on the person’s AIR account and can be provided to their employer as evidence of a medical exemption. Note that Exemptions completed via this form may experience delays (of up to a week) before they appear on the AIR.

    Alternatively, a person can download a copy of their medical exemption through their myGov or Medicare accounts via the Services Australia website.

  • Compliance with vaccination status checks is the responsibility of the employer. Businesses and incorporated associations must keep a register of their employees’ COVID-19 vaccination status.

    A business or incorporated association is not required to check vaccination status or keep a register, but may choose to, for the following:

    • a volunteer who does not work directly for the business/incorporated association
    • a contractor or subcontractor
    • an employee of a contractor or subcontractor
    • an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work a business or incorporated association.

    Example 1. The owner of a bakery must keep a register of the vaccination status of their employees. The bakery subcontracts AA Delivery & Co to distribute their cakes to local supermarkets. It is the responsibility of AA Delivery & Co to keep a register of their employees’ COVID-19 vaccination status, not the owner of the bakery.

    Example 2. Mr Smith is a volunteer referee for Kickers Soccer Club Inc. Mr Smith referees at Boomers Soccer Club Inc for the weekend. Boomers Soccer Club Inc does not need to check the vaccination status of Mr Smith, but they may choose to. It is the responsibility of Kickers Soccer Club Inc to keep a register of the vaccination status of their employees and volunteers.

  • Yes. A worker or employee as outlined in the CHO Direction includes volunteers, students on placement and contractors (who may not come under the legal definition of employee).

  • The penalty for failing to abide by the Chief Health Officer Directions issued under section 56 of the Public and Environment Health Act 2011 is $5024 for an individual (32 penalty units) and $25,120 for a business (160 penalty units).

    • Workers are required to comply with the CHO Direction for Mandatory Vaccination and if they decline to be vaccinated, or do not have a medical exemption, they must not attend their normal workplace.
    • Employers, as per the CHO directions, are only required to ensure the worker does not attend their normal workplace and may consider alternative arrangements for a worker who has not complied with the direction. In addition, the employer is required to keep a vaccination status register of employees.
    • The Fair Work Ombudsman states that employers and workers need to comply with any public health orders and directions that apply to them.
    • An employer may be able to take disciplinary action, including termination of employment, against an employee for refusing to be vaccinated if the employee’s refusal is in breach of a specific law or lawful and reasonable direction requiring vaccination.
    • Whether disciplinary action is reasonable will depend on the circumstances. Refer to https://www.fairwork.gov.au for further information.
  • The CHO Direction No. 55 2021 for workers to attend the workplace requires workers to be vaccinated if:

    • during the course of work, they are likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person;
    • during the course of their work, they are likely to come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection;
    • their workplace poses a high risk of infection by COVID-19; or
    • they perform work that is necessary for the operation of maintenance of essential infrastructure or essential logistics in the Territory.

    An employer or workplace operator is responsible for ensuring the worker does not attend their normal workplace if they have not complied with the direction, and may consider alternative arrangements for the worker.

    If, in the course of their compliance with the direction, a worker has an adverse reaction to the vaccine, the Australian Government is developing a claims scheme for people who suffer a moderate to significant impact following an adverse reaction to a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccine. The scheme will provide a simple, streamlined process to reimburse/compensate eligible people for their injuries without the need for complex legal proceedings.

    Serious side effects following vaccination are extremely RARE. In contrast, you might experience long term health problems after getting sick with COVID-19.

  • A public health order issued by the Chief Health Officer is law under section 52 of the Public and Environmental Health Act 2011.

    As per the directions, employers or workplace operators are required to ensure that any workers who are not vaccinated or do not have a medical exemption (Section 9 (a)(b)), do not attend the workplace.

    A worker who is not vaccinated or is not exempt from vaccination can continue to work in the workplace if, during the course of work they are:

    • not likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person;
    • not likely to come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection with COVID-19; and
    • not likely to be exposed to a high risk of infection with COVID19.
  • A vaccinated workforce will potentially reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 through the workplace.

    A vaccinated workforce and population will protect our community, minimise lockdowns and provide our businesses and industry with certainty as we start to open up.

  • CHO Directions No. 55 2021 requires workers to be vaccinated if:

    • during the course of their work, they are likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person;
    • during the course of their work, they are likely to come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection;
    • their workplace poses a high risk of infection by COVID-19; or
    • they perform work is necessary for the operation of maintenance of essential infrastructure or essential logistics in the Territory.

    If the worker meets any of the above requirements and has not received their required COVID-19 vaccine, they must not attend the workplace.

    • First COVID-19 vaccine dose by 12 November 2021
    • Second COVID-19 vaccine dose by 24 December 2021

    A worker who commences on or after 25 December 2021 must be fully vaccinated.

  • The examples in the directions are non-exhaustive and requires agricultural and seafood workers to be vaccinated if:

    • during the course of work, they are likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person;
    • during the course of their work, they are likely to come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection;
    • their workplace poses a high risk of infection by COVID-19; or
    • they perform work that is necessary for the operation of maintenance of essential infrastructure or essential logistics in the Territory
  • Though mining is included as an example, it includes but is not limited to any worker involved in construction, liquid natural gas and other gas facilities, exploration activities drilling, fracturing, well flow testing and flaring etc.

    CHO Directions No. 55 2021 requires workers to be vaccinated if:

    • during the course of the work, they come into contact with a vulnerable person;
    • during the course of their work, they come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection;
    • their workplace poses a high risk of infection by COVID-19; or
    • they perform work necessary for the operation or maintenance of essential infrastructure or essential logistics in the Territory
  • Workers who are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine include:

    • Workers who come into direct contact with people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID, including Aboriginal people and people who cannot be vaccinated due to age or a medical condition;
    • Workers who are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because they work in a high-risk setting where there is a known risk of COVID-19 transmission or outbreak; and
    • Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential good security or supply, or logistics in the Territory.
  • The CHO Directions apply throughout the Northern Territory as urban, regional and remote locations are at risk to COVID-19.

    The CHO Direction includes workers who come into contact with a vulnerable person. This may also include work colleagues and stakeholders.

  • The vocations list provides some examples of the types of workers required to get the COVID-19 vaccination. If your occupation falls under one of the categories, you are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine in line with the CHO Direction, even if it is not directly specified.

    Workers who are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine are:

    • Workers who come into direct contact with people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID, including Aboriginal people and people who cannot be vaccinated due to age or a medical condition;
    • Workers who are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because they work in a high-risk setting where there is a known risk of COVID-19 transmission or outbreak; and
    • Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential goods security or supply, or logistics in the Territory.
  • Until the CHO Direction ceases.

  • CHO Directions No. 55 2021 for mandatory vaccination of workers to attend the workplace applies to the private and public sector.

  • If workers have the potential to interact with vulnerable people, as per the CHO Directions 4(a) a worker who, during the course of work, is likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person, the workers must be vaccinated.

    Vulnerable people are people considered to be vulnerable to infection with COVID-19:

    • is under 12 years of age
    • cannot be vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine
    • is Aboriginal
    • is at risk of severe illness for medical reasons
  • It is up to the business to manage staffing at their workplace.

  • Most jurisdictions in Australia have introduced vaccination as a requirement for certain workers, which is in line with recommendations from the Australian Health Protection and Principle Committee (AHPPC) and the National Plan to re-open.

  • Workers are required to comply with the CHO Direction for Mandatory Vaccination and if they decline to be vaccinated, or do not have a medical exemption, they must not attend their normal workplace.

    Workers the CHO Direction applies to are required to have had their:

    • First COVID-19 vaccine dose by 12 November 2021
    • Second COVID-19 vaccine dose by 24 December 2021

    Employers, as per the CHO directions, are required to ensure the worker does not attend their normal workplace and may consider alternative arrangements for a worker who has not complied with the direction.

  • Liquid natural gas and other gas facilities would cover all exploration activities, including drilling, fracturing, well flow testing and flaring. Workers performing works on supply bases and gas pipelines would also be covered by the definition.

    The vocations and industries listed are non- exhaustive.

  • There is no obligation under the CHO Directions to move exempt people to non-customer facing roles.

    However, as per the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers and others within a workplace.

  • Workers are required to comply with the CHO Direction for Mandatory Vaccination and if they decline to be vaccinated, or do not have a medical contraindication exemption, they must not attend their normal workplace.

    Workers the CHO Direction applies to are required to have had their Worker:

    • First COVID-19 vaccine dose by 12 November 2021
    • Second COVID-19 vaccine by 24 December 2021

    Employers are required to ensure the worker does not attend their normal workplace and may consider alternative arrangements for a worker who has not complied with the direction.

    The Fair Work Ombudsman states an employer may be able to take disciplinary action, including termination of employment, against an employee for refusing to be vaccinated if the employee’s refusal is in breach a specific law or lawful and reasonable direction requiring vaccination.

    Whether disciplinary action is reasonable will depend on the circumstances. Refer to https://www.fairwork.gov.au for further information.

  • If an employer suspects false documentation has been provided, they must report this to police.

  • The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner states that under Australian Privacy Principles:

    • Only the minimum amount of personal information reasonably necessary to maintain a safe workplace should be collected, used or disclosed.
    • Vaccination status information should only be used or disclosed on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.
    • You must inform employees about how their vaccination status information will be handled.
    • Employers only need to sight proof of vaccination status. This includes a copy of their COVID-19 certificate, immunisation history statement or a letter from a medical practitioner, stating the dates and location a person received their vaccination.
    • No proof of vaccination documentation should be kept.  On request from an authorised officer, the employer or workplace operator must provide access to records demonstrating compliance with the direction.

    Further information: NT Information Commissioner and National COVID-19 Privacy Principles

  • The CHO Directions are valid on Aboriginal land. Workers must comply with the CHO direction and be vaccinated if they:

    • during the course of their work, are likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person;
    • during the course of their work, are likely to come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection;
    • their workplace poses a high risk of infection by COVID-19;
  • If you are not sure if the Direction applies to you, ask yourself these three questions:

    1. In my work, do I come into contact with vulnerable people?
    2. Is my work at a higher risk of infection?
    3. Does my work include infrastructure or logistics that are critical to the Territory?

    If your answer is maybe, or I don’t know, you need to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If your volunteer work includes interacting with members of the public, then you need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Vulnerable people include those who are aged under 12 years, are an Aboriginal person, at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and those who cannot be vaccinated due to severe reactions to all of the approved vaccines.

  • The mandatory vaccination Direction applies to incorporated associations not unincorporated associations.

  • Compliance with vaccination status checks is the responsibility of the employer or in the case of volunteers, the organisation the person directly volunteers for. Businesses and incorporated associations must keep a register of their employees’ COVID-19 vaccination status.

    A business or incorporated association is not required to check vaccination status or keep a register, but may choose to, for the following:

    • a volunteer who does not work directly for the business/incorporated association
    • a contractor or subcontractor
    • an employee of a contractor or subcontractor
    • an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work a business or incorporated association.

    Example 1. The owner of a bakery must keep a register of the vaccination status of their employees. The bakery subcontracts AA Delivery & Co to distribute their cakes to local supermarkets. It is the responsibility of AA Delivery & Co to keep a register of their employees’ COVID-19 vaccination status, not the owner of the bakery.

    Example 2. Mr Smith is a volunteer referee for Kickers Soccer Club Inc. Mr Smith referees at Boomers Soccer Club Inc for the weekend. Boomers Soccer Club Inc does not need to check the vaccination status of Mr Smith, but they may choose to. It is the responsibility of Kickers Soccer Club Inc to keep a register of the vaccination status of their employees and volunteers.