Virgin Australia has announced that it is commencing consultation with unions and employees to require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees. The company said it believes that requiring vaccination is the best way to protect the health and safety of its workforce, and in turn the wider Australian community and everyone’s way of life. A consultation process will commence shortly with relevant unions, employees and safety committees before Virgin Australia decides a final policy next month. It is currently proposed that all frontline team members be vaccinated by 15 November 2021, and all office-based team members by 31 March 2022. Those with medical issues that can be substantiated will be managed on a case-by-case basis.
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said that recent events have demonstrated that it only takes one person to create a knock-on effect which creates significant impacts for employees and the community more broadly. “Virgin Australia is not alone as a business in being deeply affected by the events of recent months. It is clear that vaccination is the only way back to normal freedom of movement and the richness in life that comes from spending meaningful, in person time with family, friends and colleagues. Vaccination is the only solution to the situation Australia currently finds itself in, and something we have determined is vital to keep our team safe, given the high public exposure most of them encounter day-to-day. The majority of our team at Virgin Australia are already vaccinated, and we will be listening to our team members to ensure we find the best fit policy for our organisation. We will now commence discussing the proposed vaccination requirement in detail with our team through our internal safety committees, unions and other appropriate forums.
“We know that some team members have questions and concerns about vaccinations. Through an internal campaign of education with qualified experts, we aim to inform and assure as many of our team members as possible. We trust medical experts, their advice and the evidence that shows that vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalisation rates,” Hrdlicka said. “Virgin Australia recognises the critical imperative to get the broader community vaccinated and will launch a competition this week to encourage as many people as we can to roll up their sleeves. We are also supportive of government-led measures to ensure travellers are vaccinated.”
Virgin Australia will continue to assist employees with securing vaccination appointments and provide flexible working arrangements, so team members can receive their vaccinations. A recent survey of Virgin Australia team members found that over 75 percent of the airline’s frontline workforce have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with another 9 percent registered for vaccination.