Today Virgin announced that they wish to enter mandatory vaccination consultation. This follows earlier announcements from Alliance and Qantas. We issued some emails with preliminary advice. We have been consumed with member responses and demands. They range from: ‘we shouldn’t be spending a cent on anti-vaxxers’ to ‘the ALAEA should champion the cause for alternative medicines and constitutional rights.’
Mandatory vaccination divides the community and our membership. The ALAEA does not make judgement calls about members; all we do is represent their concerns. This notice will contain important general advice applicable to all members, wherever you work.
A company may be able to dismiss an employee who refuses a lawful direction to vaccinate. Several components need to be followed by a company for a direction to be ‘lawful’. Some of those components are being hotly contested by governments and the ACTU. No definitive answer exists. It is clear, though, that governments are removing any barrier preventing company directives to vaccinate. Any member who continues to reject vaccination will face an uphill battle to retain employment.
The laws contain legitimate exemptions. These may or may not apply to given employees. They must be assessed on a case-by-case basis by employers. The ALAEA will be recommending a process for members seeking exemptions. The process will cover medical exemptions, religious exemptions, and conscientious exemptions. Some airlines indicate that exemptions will be tightly confined. A member seeking an exemption may not have it approved by their employer.
It has been indicated in surveys that a vast majority of members are being vaccinated for Covid. The importance of this matter extends beyond Covid. It appears that some companies, including the Qantas Group, are using Covid to gather information over and above their entitlement.
A company may be entitled to direct you to tell them if you are vaccinated. At this stage, it is unlikely that a company will be able to enforce a direction to give them documents as evidence of vaccination. Some companies are directing employees to upload vaccination certificates that include personal medical numbers. Companies can use those numbers to access information that is not Covid related.
A company may claim that they are covered by the Privacy Act. They all are. What they will not tell you is that Section 7B(3) of the Privacy Act exempts employers from complying with the same Act. This means that once they have your information, they may be able to do as they please with it.
We understand that there are a host of views. Generally, members will fall into one of three categories. Each member should consider this advice and your situation. We will provide the necessary support for each group. This will be done in house and in conjunction with the ACTU. Those who wish to continue to object to vaccination will be handled as a separate group with absolute discretion.
Advice – Members Willing to Vaccinate and Share Information with your Company
Strictly follow the directions of your company. No action is required for this group.
Advice – Members Willing to Vaccinate but Concerned about Sharing Medical Details
Follow our previous advice. If you are requested to upload certificates, redact your medical identifiers. If the certificates will not upload when redacted, await further advice from us. We will be contacting companies whom we say are going too far by demanding copies of certificates. No further action is required at this time.
Advice – Members Seeking Medical Exemptions or those Unwilling to Vaccinate
Your employment is at risk. If you do not seek assistance from us now, you will reduce your prospects of maintaining employment in aviation. We will arrange specific notices, updates, and advice for you. A form on the next page will need to be completed and returned to our office without delay. You can also send the same information to us via email. Your information will be used in accordance with the Privacy Act by us.
Authority for ALAEA to represent my mandatory vaccination concern
My Port: __________________________________
Brief Reason for not wishing to vaccinate. This may include a medical reason or other objection:
I authorise the ALAEA to assist me with my Covid concerns. I am concerned about my privacy. Unless I give further permission, I do not consent to the ALAEA sharing my medical information, including vaccination status with my employer. The ALAEA should seek my exemption from my employer on an anonymous basis on the reasons given to the ALAEA by me.
This form can be returned to the ALAEA via fax at (02) 9554 9644
Details on this form can be cut and pasted into an email and returned to