COSBOA notes today that one major learning from the last 6 months is that we need to better anticipate the future that comes from COVID-19 and prepare for all potential scenarios, including management of vaccinations and workplace impacts.
Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, stated today “we must not only learn from the past 6 months - we must also use the breadth of experience and knowledge that exists across our business community and the wider community to prepare for the untested responses to new problems. The recent focus on managing vaccinations is a case in hand.”
COSBOA knows that in various jurisdictions a person who catches COVID-19 is deemed to have done so in the workplace. This puts the employer and her or his family at a high risk of being fined or sued by employees and their families. It makes an employer, a family business, responsible for an outcome over which it has no control.
Should a safe and approved vaccine be developed, COSBOA would prefer for people to have the freedom to opt in to have the vaccine. However, if businesses cannot be protected from prosecution by employees who become infected with COVID-19, the vaccine should be compulsory for employees.
Mr Strong added “if and when a vaccine is developed and available there will be great debate about whether it should be used or not. Anti-vaxxers and libertarians will have a field day. For workplaces we must make sure that any rules do not impact upon business viability or the health of the business owner and the workers. We cannot, for example, make the employer responsible for the behaviour of workers. Our experience so far is that there is a tendency for governments and others to quickly blame the employer and demand that they be held accountable for anything and everything, including someone being impacted by a pandemic.”
Mr Strong also added “if the employer is to be held responsible then the employer must have the right to refuse employment to people who have not taken the correct precautions and also stand down employees who act irresponsibly. Let’s prepare now for what may or may not happen in the future of this pandemic and not wait until the problem occurs.”