Woolworths Group will introduce a vaccine mandate for its Australia-based staff working in its stores, distribution and online fulfilment centres, and support offices.
According to Woolworths, unless public health orders come into effect sooner, staff will be required to be fully vaccination in order to work by 31 January 2022 in NSW, Victoria, ACT, NT and WA, with SA, QLD and Tasmanian workers needing to be vaccinated by 31 March 2022.
The full vaccination policy will be released in November 2021.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the business has an obligation to keep its staff safe.
“We have 170,000 team members across our stores, distribution centres and support offices [and] with each store welcoming an average 20,000 customers a week, a single team member can come into contact with quite literally thousands of people in the course of a normal working week,” Banducci said.
“As we enter the next phase of the pandemic and learn to live with Covid-19, we need to strengthen our workplace safety settings and vaccinations are clearly a key part in this.”
As the process moves forward, Woolworths said it will engage with its team members and others who regularly visit its premises to understand any issues in meeting the requirement, and will allow for legitimate medical and religious exemptions.
And, due to the business’ essential service to the community, Woolworths will not be requiring customers to be vaccinated.
Dr. Rob McCartney, Woolies’ chief medical officer, said vaccination is the best protection against Covid-19, and that, as restrictions ease and transmission rates likely rise once again, having vaccinated staff will be incredibly important.
“There is a clear and compelling case for a vaccination requirement to provide the safest possible work environment for all our team members,” Dr. McCartney said.