Workplace Vaccine Mandates Around the World

As vaccination mandates in Canadian workplaces become more prevalent for both federally and provincially regulated sectors in Canada, we thought it would be interesting to learn how other countries and jurisdictions are tackling the issue of vaccines in the workplace.

Australia, like Canada, has a patchwork of mandates on both the federal and state level. In Western Australia, 75 percent of the 1.4 million-strong workforce is under a vaccination mandate. The mandate is split into 3 groups:

  • Group one includes workplaces where transmission is considered to be high-risk or could impact vulnerable communities such as a healthcare setting. Employees in group one must be fully vaccinated by December 31.
  • The second group are jobs deemed critical for the function of business and community. This group includes teachers and childcare workers, as well as grocery store, hardware stores, and hotel employees. Group 2 must be vaccinated by January 31.
  • The third group is for jobs such as those in pet shops, bottle shops, mechanical repair shops, and members of parliament. Group 3 employees must be fully vaccinated to attend work only in the event of a lockdown or similar restrictions.

Employers who have unvaccinated staff working after the deadline could face fines of up to $100,000, while individual employees could be fined up to $20,000.

Italy recently became the first European country to enforce a vaccine requirement for all employees, regardless of the sector in which they are employed. The Green Pass program stipulates that an employee can be suspended without pay if they are unvaccinated. Employees also have the choice to obtain the Green Pass by providing a negative COVID-19 test every 48 hours and testing is done at the employee’s expense. It is estimated that over 2 million of Italy’s workforce remains unvaccinated.

Another country to use a Green Pass program is Israel where employers in certain workplaces must require their employees to present a Green Pass. Medical institutions, welfare institutions, and entertainment and recreation venues are all subject to this requirement. Employees working in those industries must be fully vaccinated or present a certificate of negative result of a COVID-19 test taken within 84 hours.

In the United Kingdom, the government has left it to each employer to determine whether they should require their workers to be vaccinated. With the exception of specific jobs in healthcare, there is no current mandate for most sectors of the UK economy.

In the United States, vaccine requirements have been a patchwork. Federal employees and contractors are required to be vaccinated, and there is a current push to mandate all employers with 100 or more employees to require that unvaccinated employees be placed on unpaid leave. But state laws differ from state to state, and from county to county within those states, creating a complex web of varied requirements.

While this is only a small sample of countries and how they are choosing to deal with vaccine mandates in the workplace, it illustrates the complexity of balancing individual rights, collective rights, and economic necessities.

Your Engaged Assignment: Stay agile and open to changing information and requirements. If there is one thing we’ve learned well over the past 18 months it’s that change is always in the air.

As always, you can reach out to the Engaged Team for more ideas and considerations. We are here to help!