TAFE NSW has introduced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, which requires that all TAFE NSW teachers, workers, employees, and contractors have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 31 January 2022.
The vaccination mandate does not generally apply to TAFE NSW students, except where they are required by Public Health Orders; employed by TAFE NSW as apprentices, trainees or volunteers; or serving members of the public in simulated work environments.
As a public provider of vocational education and training, the vaccination policy brings TAFE NSW into line with many other public sector agencies who have introduced vaccination mandates for their workforce. This makes TAFE NSW consistent with Victoria, which has mandated vaccinations for staff, but has also included all other workers in higher education, training and adult education – which New South Wales has not done. Victoria also includes all students of TAFE, VET and adult education in its mandatory vaccination policy.
Like any other employer, TAFE NSW is able to introduce policies about vaccination mandates for its employees. TAFE consulted with its workforce in the design of this policy.
What does it mean for providers of VET or Higher Education? The Return to Vocational Education and Training Guidelines remain unchanged, except for periodic minor updates.
Providers can similarly elect to implement a vaccination mandate for their workforce. Importantly, a period of consultation with staff needs to occur prior to the introduction of a mandate policy.
FairWork Ombudsman provides clear advice for business vaccination mandates.
What about for providers who have shared education facilities? NSW providers with shared facilities or who are co-located with other education settings, such as schools or early childhood education providers, need to ensure that anyone with access to these facilities is vaccinated in line with current Public Health Orders for those education settings. VET students in aged care, because of aged care facility vaccination requirements, are also required to be vaccinated.
CCA strongly supports vaccination, and is keen that its members have appropriate templates and legal frameworks to assist them if they decide to require vaccination of staff and/or students.