If you’re going to mandate COVID vaccination at your workplace, here’s how to do it ethically

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Jane Williams, University of Sydney and Holly Seale, UNSWCompulsory COVID vaccination is in the news again now Qantas has just announced its employees will need a shot.

This follows fruit and vegetable processing company SPC announcing vaccines would be compulsory for onsite staff, a move that’s attracted some backlash.

If you are an employer and thinking about a vaccine mandate for your workers, there are many things to consider. And if you want to go down that path as a last resort here’s how to do it ethically.

Read more:
Airline policies mandating vaccines will be a turbulent test of workplace rights

Vaccine mandates are not new

Internationally, COVID vaccines have been mandated in sectors such as health care, education and business.

In Australia, public health orders have paved the way for mandates in workplaces, such as quarantine and construction. Now attention is turning to vaccine mandates in businesses.

The federal government says in the absence of specific health orders, it’s up to businesses to decide if a vaccine mandate is appropriate. Aside from vaccine mandates in aged care, the federal government says vaccine mandates are not for government to impose. Not everyone agrees. Employers are also receiving updated messages about whether a vaccine mandate is legal and under what circumstances.

Read more:
Could a France-style vaccine mandate for public spaces work in Australia? Legally, yes, but it’s complicated

If vaccine mandates are introduced at work, it’s critical they are introduced ethically. And the World Health Organization has guidance on this.

Of the issues it raises, two stand out as being directly relevant to workplaces — necessity and trust.

In other words, is a vaccine mandate a necessary, reasonable and proportionate response to a public health problem? This is not an easy or one-off decision. This is because the background risk of COVID infection can change rapidly, as we are seeing in Australia.

Second, how can employers approach the issue, while fostering mutual trust between them, their workers and public health agencies? The issue of fostering trust is what we’ll focus on.

Promote choice first

You might not actually need a vaccine mandate. Offer alternatives before mandates, where possible, as a way of promoting trust.

This is called offering a “least restrictive alternative”, a liberty-promoting approach that aims not to coerce people unless or until they have been given every opportunity to be vaccinated because they choose to be.

Here are things businesses can and should try to promote choice:

  • make getting the vaccine easy. This could include making it available at work or facilitating appointments for any staff who want help booking in. Pay particular attention to those who are not online or need help navigating the system. Government assistance to help people book an appointment is extremely limited. So businesses who want high uptake among staff should be prepared to take on this responsibility
  • make sure there are no financial burdens associated with receiving the vaccine. All staff, including casual staff, should be given paid time off to receive the vaccine and sick leave if they feel unwell following it

Read more:
Do I get time off work for my COVID shot? Can I take a sick day?

  • if staff are concerned about being vaccinated, facilitate access to reliable information and opportunities to ask questions/receive information in person. This is more than providing a link to a website. It must include working with local health workers to ensure time is given for on-site information sessions (in a language other than English if needed)
  • offer alternatives where they are feasible and effective. If a mandate is deemed necessary, consider whether it is possible to achieve the same outcomes (for example, reduced infection in the workplace) by using other public health measures for people who do not want to be vaccinated. Such measures could include alternative work arrangements and frequent COVID testing.

Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Vaccine passports are a better tool than mandating jabs for all jobs

Make it fair

The second way employers can foster trust, is to make decisions in a way that’s fair and to ensure stakeholders feel supported and included. This procedural justice or fair decision-making process is intended to promote legitimacy — the idea that the decision is a good one — and deal with any disagreements.

One such approach argues decisions must be fully transparent, relevant, revisable and enforceable.

Here are some ways businesses can help ensure processes are fair when they are considering a mandate and whether they should decide to impose one:

  • involve stakeholders. Mandates should never come as a surprise. Do staff support a mandate? What is the justification for a mandate? Have open conversations and, if a mandate is agreed on, include staff in the team that develops communication materials for it. Include unions in discussions.
  • be clear about the justification for and the goal of the mandate. How long will a vaccine mandate be required? Is the mandate a response to an immediate threat or envisaged as ongoing company policy? If the latter, the business must be able to argue it will continue to be necessary and proportionate, and this may be difficult
  • support enforcement. Any mandate must be enforceable. Have a plan for how this will happen and make sure people who are responsible for enforcing colleagues’ compliance are supported. Any vaccine mandate must include medical exemptions and these should follow government guidance. It is not appropriate for businesses to create their own medical exemption policies.

Read more:
Would Australians support mandates for the COVID-19 vaccine? Our research suggests most would

How does Qantas measure up?

Qantas consulted with staff to better understand the appetite for a mandate. More than half the company’s workers responded to a questionnaire, and three-quarters of those who answered supported a vaccine mandate.

A questionnaire is a good start, as is the company’s policy of providing paid time off to receive the vaccine.

Without more information, it’s difficult to know how well supported workers who didn’t support the mandate or didn’t respond to the questionnaire might be feeling, or what Qantas is doing to address this as part of its mandate process.

We also don’t know whether the company used less liberty restricting methods to try to maximise vaccination. (Telstra, for example, offered every vaccinated worker a voucher for use in its store).

Qantas has announced that the mandate applies to all staff. But such a blanket mandate is difficult to justify. Staff should feel safe at work, but there are many different kinds of roles in a company the size of Qantas and not all of those roles take place in high exposure settings.

In a nutshell

Maintaining and promoting trust is important when it comes to vaccine mandates. It matters to people subject to mandates and it matters to the public more broadly because mutual trust is a cornerstone of effective public health engagement.

People should feel supported in their health decision making and they should trust and feel respected by their employers.

We’re seeing increasing politicisation about COVID public health measures, in Australia and internationally. This is a social harm we should avoid.The Conversation

Jane Williams, Researcher at Sydney Health Ethics, University of Sydney and Holly Seale, Associate professor, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Conclusive scientific evidence: homosexuality is treatable

The U.S.-based National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has just released its long-awaited comprehensive review of over 125 years of scientific research on homosexuality, reports Family Watch International.

This groundbreaking report, “What Research Shows,” dispels the myths that are commonly used to promote the legalization of same-sex marriage and the mainstreaming of homosexuality throughout society and in the public schools by force of law.

NARTH is a professional association of scientists and mental health professionals whose stated mission is to conduct and disseminate scientific research on homosexuality, promote effective treatment, and to protect the right of individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction to receive effective care.

While one might think that such a mission would be viewed as both commendable and relatively non-controversial, the reality is just the opposite. Homosexual activists try to suppress research on same-sex attraction because one of the pillars of homosexual advocacy is the falsehood that homosexuals are “born that way” and cannot change their orientation. Since the NARTH report proves that homosexuality can be changed through therapy in the same way conditions like alcoholism and other addictions can be changed, the whole case for mainstreaming homosexuality into society crumbles. Another myth the NARTH report disproves is that therapy to help people with unwanted same-sex attraction is ineffective and even harmful.

The extensive research and clinical experience reviewed by NARTH makes it clear even to a layman that these claims are false. Homosexual activists spread these misconceptions about homosexuality and even persecute their own who seek treatment because they know that public opinion polls show that people who believe homosexuals are born that way are more likely to support the homosexual agenda. NARTH is one of the very few credible, professional organizations anywhere in the world that is successfully challenging this propaganda.

Specifically, the NARTH report substantiates the following conclusions:

1. There is substantial evidence that sexual orientation may be changed through reorientation therapy.

“Treatment success for clients seeking to change unwanted homosexuality and develop their heterosexual potential has been documented in the professional and research literature since the late 19th century. …125 years of clinical and scientific reports which document those professionally-assisted and other attempts at volitional change from homosexuality toward heterosexuality has been successful for many and that such change continues to be possible for those who are motivated to try.”

2. Efforts to change sexual orientation have not been shown to be consistently harmful or to regularly lead to greater self-hatred, depression, and other self-destructive behaviors.

“We acknowledge that change in sexual orientation may be difficult to attain. As with other difficult challenges and behavioral patterns—such as low-self-esteem, abuse of alcohol, social phobias, eating disorders, or borderline personality disorder, as well as sexual compulsions and addictions—change through therapy does not come easily.”

“We conclude that the documented benefits of reorientation therapy—and the lack of its documented general harmfulness—support its continued availability to clients who exercise their right of therapeutic autonomy and self-determination through ethically informed consent.”

The NARTH report warns that “The limited body of clinical reports that claim that harm is possible—if not probable— if a person simply attempts to change typically were written by gay activist professionals.”

3. There is significantly greater medical, psychological, and relational pathology in the homosexual population than the general population.

“Researchers have shown that medical, psychological and relationship pathology within the homosexual community is more prevalent than within the general population. …In some cases, homosexual men are at greater risk than homosexual women and heterosexual men, while in other cases homosexual women are more at risk than homosexual men and heterosexual women. …Overall, many of these problematic behaviors and psychological dysfunctions are experienced among homosexuals at about three times the prevalence found in the general population—and sometimes much more. …We believe that no other group of comparable size in society experiences such intense and widespread pathology.”

You can read NARTH’s executive summary of the report on our Web site here.

Report from the Christian Telegraph