With the removal of restrictions across states and transitioning into a COVID-19 norm, Woolworths has announced all team members must be vaccinated in the coming months to keep working.
The policy will be applied across the group to improve the safety of all team members working in stores, distribution centres, online fulfilment centres, and support offices.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the company aims to provide a safe working environment for its team.
“We have 170,000 team members across our stores, distribution centres and support offices, and more than 1200 retail stores. With each store welcoming an average 20,000 customers a week, a single team member can come into contact with thousands of people in a normal working week.
“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,” he said.
Cut-off for the ACT, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria, and Western Australia is 31 January 2022 and 31 March 2022 for Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
A third of Woolie’s workforce were already fully vaccinated or had received their first shot due to state issued health orders.
Woolworths chief medical officer Dr Rob McCartney said there is enough medical evidence to suggest the vaccine is the safest route for its team members.
“A vaccinated team member is far less likely to get COVID, much less likely to pass it on, and also significantly less likely to become seriously ill,” said McCartney.
With the group providing paid leave for frontline team members to access the vaccine, Woolworths has been consistently supporting its team to take the vaccine since the start of the national rollout.
Vaccine clinics at distribution centres and closed Big W stores have also been established by the supermarket giant, with more than 12,000 team members receiving vaccinations at these outlets.
Banducci added there had been close collaboration between teams and divisions across the country.
“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,” he said.
Any issues regarding the mandate will be assessed by the company including exemptions for legitimate medical and religious purposes.