Telstra could force its public-facing staff to receive COVID-19 vaccinations or face "medical retirement", an internal email has revealed.
In the Telstra staff email, seen by ARN, CEO Andy Penn said that the proposed policy would affect around 8,300 Telstra roles employees in roles in regular contact with customers, the public or other employees.
The proposal is undergoing a week-long consultation period between the telco, its staff, unions and some of its partners.
If approved, staff members would have to have their first vaccine by 15 October and the second by 15 November, but Penn said there would be flexibility in the policy if vaccine supply issues arise.
Currently, Telstra's vaccination policy would affect those that work with vulnerable people and communities, such as in medical facilities, aged care homes, schools, shopping centres and Indigenous communities.
Vaccinations would be required for those in its E00 contact centres and Global Operations Centre, as well as employees that are required to work in locations or premises currently under local government area restrictions.
This proposed policy is also expected to cover those in Amplitel and Telstra Health, and the telco will also be asking those in its 100 per cent owned subsidiaries, contractors and partners that do the same work as its frontline and business-critical teams to also be fully vaccinated.
Additionally, employment contracts for new starters in the specified roles will also be affected by the policy change — including those that are new to Telstra and transfers from one role to another.
Staff members that choose not to be vaccinated on personal or medical grounds would need to provide supporting medical evidence to be assessed by an independent medical practitioner.
The telco would also look to relocate the employee into a role that does not require vaccination, but Penn added if Telstra cannot find such a role, “it may ultimately lead to medical retirement”.
“In moments like this we have a choice to be on the right side of history," Penn said. "Often that involves finding our courage and taking a stand that may not always be popular with everyone. Incentives help, but we need to go a step further to protect each other, the most vulnerable in our communities and the customers we interact with each day."
“Now is the time to do this as more vaccine supplies become available and as the risks associated with the Delta variant escalate.
“Increasing vaccination rates is the best way to protect our health and set us up to live with COVID – without the crippling impacts of lockdowns and uncertainty. It is our quickest path towards hope and we will do all we can to get us there."
“We will continue to have a strong voice in the fight against COVID. I encourage all businesses with similar roles to consider taking the same step as we are taking today," he added.
Employees will be given the chance over the coming week to ask the telco questions and provide feedback.
Penn's email added that Telstra has now had more than 7,200 people upload their vaccination certificates in its Workday software system.