- Supermarket giants Coles (COL) and Woolworths (WOW) are introducing mandatory vaccination policies for staff across Australia
- Both businesses announced the new restrictions on Thursday, with Woolies workers expected to get jabbed before March 2022 while Coles staff will have until December
- WOW and COL say the decision has been driven by existing workplace health and safety settings as well as the state and federal government’s policies
- The vaccine policy won’t be extended to customers, with the supermarkets saying they’ll continue to serve unvaccinated patrons at all of theirs stores
Supermarket giants Coles (COL) and Woolworths (WOW) are introducing mandatory vaccination policies for their staff across Australia.
The ASX-listed businesses both issued announcements on Thursday confirming they’d require employees to be immunised against COVID-19 in order to work for the supermarkets.
The vaccine policies won’t extend to customers though, with both supermarkets stating they’ll continue to serve unvaccinated patrons at all stores.
Woolies will push for its 170,000 staff in ACT, NSW, NT, Victoria and WA to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 31, 2022.
Staff in Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia will have until March 31, 2022, to get vaccinated, unless public health orders dictate otherwise.
Coles will ask its 120,000 workers to be vaccinated even sooner, with its NSW and ACT team members required to have their first vaccination by November 5.
Staff in Victoria, NT and WA are required to be vaccinated in line with the dates set out in public health orders.
No government mandate is in place for Coles workers in South Australia and Queensland, but COL said it would strongly encourage those workers to get vaccinated.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the government had made it clear they expected essential workers to be vaccinated.
“As people are able to circulate more freely in NSW, ACT and Victoria, health authorities have warned that COVID case numbers in these states are expected to increase, which also means a higher risk of positive cases visiting our stores,” Mr Cain said.
“We’ve been pleased with the uptake of the vaccine by our team members, and we owe it to them to ensure that as many of their colleagues as possible also do their bit by getting the jab.”
Meanwhile, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said the vaccine policy would keep other staff and customers safe.
“We have a clear obligation to provide our team members with the safest possible work environment as we supply the food and essential needs our communities rely on,” Mr Banducci said.
“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.”
ALDI Australia also announced on Thursday that it is consulting with employees on planned safety policies that include the requirement of COVID-19 vaccines as an eligibility criterion for employment.
CEO Tom Daunt said the company believes it is the best measure to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers.
“We have commenced consultation with all of our employees to gather their input to our proposed safety plans and the best implementation timeline,” he said. “Following this consultation and consideration of the feedback provided, we will announce our plans to all employees.”