ARA members call for leadership on vaccinations

Survey results from the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) shows that 67% of businesses believe Covid vaccines should be mandatory for frontline retail staff.

This is with the allowance for government approved exemptions, but 76% would not mandate the vaccine in the current environment while there are legal ambiguities.

There’s strong support for retail workers to be prioritised for Covid vaccines, with 83% in favour, while 82% of ARA members support a vaccine passport system which allows greater freedoms for fully vaccinated people.

Additionally, 57% are in support of vaccine passports being used as a condition of entry into retail settings.

“The ARA is strongly campaigning for the vaccination of as many Australians as possible,” says CEO of ARA, Paul Zahra.

“We need to power through to the 70% and 80% vaccination marks to trigger more freedoms for citizens and put an end to the lockdowns that are decimating so many businesses and livelihoods.”

He continues, “Retail workers are at the coalface of the crisis and deserve prioritisation and protection. However, the issue of mandatory vaccinations for certain workforce cohorts is complex. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has left this decision in the hands-on employers, and this comes with great risk. Understandably 76% of ARA members are not willing to make jabs compulsory without any legal protections in place.”

Mr Zahra emphasises that there is confusion and legal ambiguity around this however, “…and we need to see urgent leadership from the Federal Government to enable the necessary legal protections should businesses decide to make vaccines mandatory for their staff. It’s unfair to leave small businesses to navigate this legal minefield, and expose them to additional costs, without clarity or safeguards in place.

“The ARA holds that vaccine passports are not appropriate for general retail, where they would interfere with Australian’s rights to access basic living essentials. To add to this, vaccine passports are another legally challenged area. The resources required to introduce store checking requirements and respond to customer inquiries and potential customer abuse resulting from the introduction of this measure adds a layer of distress to a retail workforce which is already struggling under the burden of Covid compliance demands,” he says.

There were more than 250 respondents to an online poll conducted this week. Retail respondents were from all states and territories across a diverse range of businesses, including enterprise level retail and SMBs.