SPC first Australian company to require its staff to be vaccinated
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Fruit and vegetable giant SPC will be the first company in Australia to require all onsite personnel – including staff and visitors – to be fully vaccinated by the end of November.
Staff at the company, which produces SPC, Ardmona and Goulburn Valley-branded products, will not be able to gain entry to any of its locations without being vaccinated – a decision made by chairman Hussein Rifai in the wake of the quickly spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.
“We believe that the only way that we can get out and protect our employees, our customers, and the communities in which we work is to [get] the vaccine,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning.
SPC is the first Australian company to mandate staff get vaccinated against COVID-19. Credit:2004
Mr Rafai said employees will be given paid vaccination leave to recover if they suffer any side effects from their inoculation. All staff, including casuals, must have their first dose booked by September 15. All visitors to any SPC site must also be vaccinated.
“A place like Shepparton [in northern Victoria], where our factory is, you can shut the whole thing down very easily, it’s a small town. People interface a fair bit and we’re one of the largest employers there,” he said.
“If we’re not protecting our employees and it spreads through there, then it will impact the whole town.”
Mr Rafai said the company was currently consulting with the union and employees about the policy. Any employee with a pre-existing condition who is unable to receive the vaccine will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Employers in Australia have so far been reticent to float the idea of mandatory vaccinations for staff, with many raising concerns moving to do so may not be legal under the country’s workplace laws. Some are also worried it could throw up privacy issues or leave the company open to unnecessary attacks from groups who are opposed to the vaccine.
Major retailers such as Coles, Woolworths and Wesfarmers have so far only “strongly encouraged” staff to get vaccinated, with Wesfarmers boss Rob Scott telling The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald last week it was premature to discuss the possibility of mandating vaccinations.
However, employers overseas aren’t as hesitant, with some of America’s largest employers feeling compelled to act amid a surge in Delta infections. Last week, Google said it would require employees who returned to the company’s offices to be vaccinated, while Disney announced a mandate for all salaried and nonunion hourly workers who work on-site.
Yesterday, tech giant Microsoft said it would also require proof of vaccination to enter its sites in the US.
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