Australian banks are joining a growing number of businesses mandating COVID-19 vaccination among staff: Westpac and Commonwealth Bank, two of the largest banks in the country by market cap, have announced their respective vaccination policies requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated if they are to work on-site.
The policies are expected to affect a total of 75,000 bank employees at the two Big Banks.
Westpac employees in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory are required to get immunised fully by 1 December, while those in other states and territories must follow through by February 2022.
Westpac recently surveyed more than 10,000 staff members on their attitudes towards COVID vaccinations and found overwhelming support for the move. CEO Peter King reported: "91% said they are, or intend to be, vaccinated, with 4% undecided."
"Like other essential services, banking has remained open during the pandemic to support customers through COVID-19 and with their banking needs," King recounted.
"With a large workforce, it is important that we have the safest possible work environment."
Back in June, the outbreak in NSW forced more than 3,800 Westpac employees to isolate and over 280 branches to shutter temporarily, "significantly disrupting operations," the CEO said.
"It is clear that the best way to keep our people safe and stay open for our customers is for people to be vaccinated."
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Commonwealth Bank, meanwhile, said it is mandating staff vaccination to support greater recovery plans across Australia. Employees are required to be fully vaccinated by the following dates:
- Victoria – 26 November
- NSW and ACT – 1 December
- Northern Territory – 24 December
- Other states and territories – February 2022
The vaccination policy, Commonwealth Bank said, addresses the call of employees and clients "who want certainty, consistency and confidence as the economy re-opens and life in our communities returns to normal".
Both Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are holding consultations with staff members.
Two other Big Banks – NAB and ANZ – have yet to roll out their own mandatory vaccination policies but are encouraging staff to get inoculated to help Australia reach its immunisation targets for re-opening the economy.
"The faster we're all vaccinated, the better," said Susan Ferrier, NAB Group Executive – People and Culture. "Vaccine take-up across the country continues to rise and the targets for 70 and 80% are in sight."
Apart from the workplace vaccination program, NAB is also supporting staff members to get immunised wherever they can by giving them paid time off to do so.
"It's great to see our colleagues and their household members rolling up their sleeve and taking this opportunity to get vaccinated at work," Ferrier said.