After Qantas and Virgin Airlines made headlines with their COVID-19 vaccination policies, telecoms group Telstra has followed suit, instructing its own customer-facing and critical services staff to complete their vaccination requirements.
The proposal, which is part of a wider awareness campaign dubbed #LetsVaxx, set a target vaccination date of 15 November (for workers required to have two doses) in a bid to help Australia out of the crisis.
In a memo sent to close to 29,000 staff members, Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the company is consulting with employees, unions and partners on an immunisation policy that would likely see in-store and field workers getting the jab as part of their work requirements. The new rule is expected to impact about 8,300 employees.
“As you know, over the last few weeks we have been stepping up our efforts in the battle against COVID,” Penn wrote.
“We know that the best way out of this crisis, and the current lockdowns and uncertainty they bring, is to increase our vaccination rates.”
The upcoming policy would likely re-assess the requirements of roles that are “in regular contact with customers, the public or other employees” such as frontliners, business critical teams, and those who visit customer premises.
However, the rule might not apply to employees whose duties enable them to work remotely, whether at home or outside of Australia.
While the #LetsVaxx tagline has reportedly received criticism from customers, Penn believes requiring inoculation among staff is an “important and necessary” move to bring the idea of vaccination into mainstream conversations and provide a way forward after the latest wave of lockdowns.
“We are a team of many thousands serving many millions of customers. More than most other companies our teams stretch across the far reaches of Australia – from our cities to remote outback towns,” Penn said.
“We are part of these communities and we have an obligation to keep them safe and well – and to protect each other.”
The CEO added: “When you consider some of the situations we find ourselves in, you realise just how critical it is that we are vaccinated – from a technician getting choppered into the Tiwi Islands to restore mobile connection, to visiting the home of a priority assist customer with a life-threatening medical condition, or fixing a fault at an aged-care home, and even welcoming customers in store and answering life and death calls in our E000 contact centres.”