The NT’s two-year public health emergency declaration will lift from midnight tonight, meaning Territorians will be able to work without having a COVID-19 vaccination for the first time since last year.
While those in the private sector will be permitted to seek re-employment, there are still unanswered questions about those forced to leave their jobs in the public service.
An email to all current public servants from Public Employment Commissioner Vicki Telfer said the mandatory vaccination requirement on all public service jobs will be removed from midnight and that selection panels will no longer need to check the vaccination status of job applicants from June 16.
But Ms Telfer made no mention of whether former employees will be welcomed back to their jobs, instead saying that departmental chief executives would instead “make their own policies regarding vaccination requirements”.
They will also be able to bring in other health measures such as wearing masks, she wrote.
“CEOs would need to assess the specific WHS risks for specific workplaces consistent with the WHS legislation, develop options to mitigate those risks and consult with affected employees ahead of making a decision,” she wrote.
“This would include consideration of record keeping of vaccination status and notation on job descriptions for such roles about vaccination requirements.”
Ms Telfer also said that employees’ vaccination status will be kept in the government records “to ensure any decisions taken or not taken in relation to an employee pertaining to COVID-19 vaccine requirements have an evidentiary basis”.
“You can continue to update your own myHR vaccination record but there will be no requirement to do so,” she wrote.
1400 Health staff resigned in nine months: Estimates
Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said on Wednesday at a press conference that public servants who had left because of the vaccine mandate would not have their jobs automatically handed back to them.
“They are welcome if they meet the criteria across the Northern Territory Government to apply for a job,” she said.
“Even though the CHO direction will finish around COVID-19 vaccination it could well be a policy setting, particularly in frontline health roles, that you are vaccinated not just for COVID-19 but for other illnesses.
“We had this policy before COVID, that people were required to be vaccinated for influenza or measles for example and so that policy will still be in place.”
It was revealed on Tuesday at Estimates hearings that 1400 Health Department staff had resigned in the nine months leading up to March 31.
The government did not provide how many of those resignations were the result of the vaccine mandate.
The Fyles Government last month passed legislation that will give the Chief Health Officer extraordinary powers for the next two years to continue to issue directions, mandate masks or vaccines for “high-risk places” and conduct other activities, without the need for a public health emergency. The NT Police will execute and enforce those orders as they arise.