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.
If you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Where to get help.
Does the law say I must be vaccinated for work?
Victorian Government pandemic orders used to say that most workers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 coronavirus to work outside their home. Those laws finished on 24 June 2022. The law no longer says you must be vaccinated to work outside your home, except in certain industries, such as healthcare. To check if rules about mandatory vaccines apply to you, see Worker vaccination or the Pandemic Order .
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.
If your employer says they will dismiss you, and you think that is unfair, get legal advice immediately. See Where to get help.
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.
For more information about discrimination and vaccines, see the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Explainer: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and your .
Read about discrimination and vaccines in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Explainer: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and your .
Learn more about legal issues and COVID-19 coronavirus.
Read our page on Employment and your rights.
Where to get help
If you need help with discrimination at work, contact us for legal . Discrimination means that you are treated badly because of something that is protected by the law, like your religious beliefs or a disability.
If you need help with other employment issues, contact .
If you need help with other legal issues, see Other support.
We acknowledge and thank for assisting us to prepare this information. We also thank JobWatch for reviewing this information and providing updates.
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 17 November 2022