Employer COVID-19 vaccine promotions and giveaways

Articles Written by Christine Ecob (Partner), Ruveni Kelleher (Partner), Norah Chafardet (Senior Associate)

As the race to vaccinate 80% of the Australian population against COVID-19 commences, employers are considering what role they can play to ensure restrictions are eased and employees are safe. While a number of organisations are offering leave to be vaccinated, others are offering additional incentives.

On 27 July 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted a Permission allowing employers and others to lawfully provide communications about COVID-19 vaccines to support and encourage the Government's COVID-19 vaccine roll-out (TGA Permission).  

The TGA Permission, which will be in place until December 2022, allows businesses to offer vaccine rewards to employees, subject to meeting certain conditions.

TGA Permission allowing employers to offer a reward to encourage COVID-19 vaccination

The TGA Permission allows employers to offer valuable consideration (cash or other rewards) to people who have been fully vaccinated under the Government's national COVID-19 vaccination program. The offer of rewards to encourage COVID-19 vaccination is allowed provided the offer:

  • is made to people who have been fully vaccinated (i.e. two shots);
  • states that vaccination must be undertaken on the advice of a health practitioner;
  • refers to COVID-19 vaccines generically (i.e. without referencing a particular vaccine);
  • is made to all eligible people who have been fully vaccinated (before or after the offer is made);
  • does not include tobacco or medicines (other than listed medicines); and
  • does not contain an offer of alcohol that: (i) encourages excessive or rapid consumption of alcohol; and (ii) has a strong or evident appeal to minors.[1]

Any communication must be consistent with current Commonwealth health messaging and there cannot be any reference to the trade name, sponsor name or any other information that would identify the particular vaccine. There cannot be any statement comparing vaccines nor any statements to the effect that COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause harm or have no side effects.

Mitigating risks

Because the TGA Permission does not extinguish the responsibilities that employers have under other relevant employment laws employers should consider what steps they should take to mitigate any risks associated with such an offer. For example, the statement that vaccination must only be undertaken on the advice of a health practitioner must be very clear so that employees do not interpret the offer as advice that they should be vaccinated. In addition, employers will need to seek advice on any anti-discrimination implications of an offer and compliance with privacy laws if health information (such as evidence of vaccination) will be collected.

We can help you navigate the various legal obligations when preparing strategies and communications for COVID-19 vaccination incentives.

Contact one of our legal experts below to find out how we can support you.   

[1] The supply or service of alcohol must comply with Responsible Service of Alcohol requirements.

Important Disclaimer: The material contained in this article is comment of a general nature only and is not and nor is it intended to be advice on any specific professional matter. In that the effectiveness or accuracy of any professional advice depends upon the particular circumstances of each case, neither the firm nor any individual author accepts any responsibility whatsoever for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of any articles. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this publication, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation (Australia-wide except in Tasmania).

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