If you are told you must be vaccinated against COVID-19 coronavirus to keep your job, there are five things you need to know:
- the law no longer says most workers must be vaccinated to work outside their home
- your employer can insist you get vaccinated if that is reasonable to make your workplace safe
- if you cannot be vaccinated because of a medical condition, you may be able to continue to work, but it depends on your situation
- if you could be vaccinated, but choose not to, you could lose your job
- you should not give your employer false information about whether you are vaccinated.
Does the law say I must be vaccinated for work?
However, in some other situations, your employer can decide that you must be vaccinated.
What if my employer says I must be vaccinated?
In some circumstances, your employer can:
- say you must be vaccinated if you are required to work outside your home
- ask for proof that you have been vaccinated.
Your employer can only do this if it is reasonable to make your workplace healthy and safe.
If it is reasonable, and you refuse, you could lose your job. What is reasonable depends on the type of work you do and the risks if you are not vaccinated.
If you cannot be vaccinated because you have a medical condition, you should tell your employer. Your employer should not discriminate against you (treat you unfairly) if you have a disability, like a medical condition. You and your employer can try to work out other ways to keep you and your workplace safe. For example, you may be able to perform different duties or work from home. Your employer should make reasonable adjustments to your work if that is possible. What is reasonable depends on your situation and the type of work you do.
You do not usually have to give your employer private medical information, like proof of vaccination. However, your employer can ask for proof of vaccination if that is reasonable to make your workplace safe. Do not give your employer false information about whether you are vaccinated. Lying to your employer about being vaccinated would likely breach your employment contract – you could be disciplined or even dismissed.
Your employer must make sure your workplace is healthy and safe for you and others. If you cannot do your job in a way that is safe, your employer can dismiss you.
What if I do not want to be vaccinated?
You can choose to not be vaccinated against COVID-19 coronavirus.
However, this could mean losing your job, depending on your circumstances and the type of work you do.
Some beliefs are protected by discrimination laws in Victoria, like religious beliefs and political beliefs. That means your employer should not treat you unfairly because of your religious beliefs or political beliefs.
However, discrimination laws are unlikely to protect you if you refuse to be vaccinated because of your beliefs about vaccines.
There are also situations when discrimination laws do not apply. That means you could lose your job if both of these apply:
- you refuse to be vaccinated
- it is reasonable for your employer to insist you are vaccinated to make your workplace safe.
Where to get help
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Reviewed 25 July 2023