Woolworths Group is intending to introduce a new requirement for its team members to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the coming months.
According to Woolworths, the policy is hoped to strengthen the company’s workplace health and safety settings as the nation moves to the next phase of the pandemic and various states and territories begin removing Covid-19 restrictions. It will apply group-wide and cover Australian team members working in stores, distribution and online fulfilment centres, and support offices.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci says the company has a clear obligation to provide its team members with the safest possible work environment as it supplies food and essential needs.
“We have 170,000 team members across our stores, distribution centres and support offices, and more than 1200 retail stores,” he says.
“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.
“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 of this.
“After careful review of the best medical advice, we’ve made the decision to require all of our team members in Australia to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Importantly, we have been listening to our team members. With states and territories at different levels of vaccination uptake and availability, we will engage with them further on our roadmap and implement a sensible and pragmatic timeframe for the requirement to come into effect.”
Unless public health orders come into effect sooner, the proposed timeline for the full vaccination requirement in ACT, NSW, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia is 31 January 2022 and 31 March 2022 in the other states.
Woolworths is now engaging with its team, and others who regularly visit its workplaces, to understand any practical and individual issues in meeting the requirement. This will include allowing for legitimate medical and religious exemptions.
The company expects to make a final decision and release its policy next month.