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CEPU/CWU Statement on Australia Post Pandemic Leave Policy changes for unvaccinated employees

Australia Post has introduced controversial changes to its pandemic leave policy.

The policy was introduced last year, following considerable lobbying from the Union.

Changes to the policy, which took effect on 17 November, do not change the level of benefits provided – however, employees who choose not to be vaccinated are no longer eligible to avail of those benefits.

This is a move which the Union has alleged is a form of mandating vaccination at Australia Post.

During a number of meetings held with Australia Post in consultation on the changes, the Union has made this allegation clear and strongly opposed the change.

However, in a letter to the Union today, Australia Post has decided to push on with the change, nonetheless.

Click here to view a copy of that letter.

What the changes mean

The Union maintains that these changes amount to a form of mandating vaccination against COVID-19 at Australia Post.

Employees who are unvaccinated will no longer be able to access the benefits provided by the pandemic leave policy.

Affected employees who are absent for reasons which were ordinarily covered under the pandemic leave policy must avail of personal leave, ARL, long service leave or leave without pay for any such period.

For the purpose of determining eligibility under the policy, those employees who have not disclosed their vaccination status, and those who have received a single dose but decided not to proceed with a second dose, are considered unvaccinated.

A copy of the updated policy can be viewed by clicking here.

The Union broadly opposes mandatory vaccination on the basis that it does not align with the Government’s public health position – that the vaccination is free of cost and is voluntary for each Australian. We believe if mandates are going to be introduced, it is the role of government health authorities to do so, based on a thorough public health risk analysis.

It is also our very strongly held view that the pandemic leave policy doesn’t just provide for income protection for employees who may be required to isolate in accordance with various health orders, but keeps our workplaces safer overall.

For employees with little to no available leave entitlements, pandemic leave is the difference between an employee being incentivised to attend for work whilst sick – unnecessarily potentially putting other workers in the workplace at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The entitlements to paid pandemic leave for all employees at Australia Post should be restored – and we will continue to advocate for this to occur.

Get vaccinated

Despite our opposition to the policy change, we remain steadfast in urging all members to nevertheless get vaccinated. If not for your own protection against severe illness and/or death, for the safety of your family, your colleagues and the communities you live and work in.

According to research published August 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine, two doses of the vaccines available in Australia still remain effective at preventing transmission of the Delta strain – 88% in the case of Pfizer, and 67% in the case of AstraZeneca – compared to 93.7% and 74.5%, respectively, in the case of the Alpha strain.

If you are at all hesitant for any reason, please speak to your own treating doctor to discuss your personal circumstances.

Your own trusted medical practitioner is the most appropriate source of advice for you on what is best for your health.

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