Can you mandate COVID 19 vaccination in your studio?

This is a hot topic with a lot of emotions attached to it. As with most things done in a creative business, a collaborative approach is the best approach. This includes discussing, planning and facilitating vaccinations.

The long and short of it is having a vaccine is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our community against COVID-19.
But what are the legal requirements?

The starting point is to look at the workplace health and safety requirements every studio owner faces, including COVID.

Workplace Health and Safety

Business owners have a legal responsibility to manage health and safety in their workplace. Workplace health and safety laws are regulated by each state making it hard to answer definitively: YES or NO, to all employees must be vaccinated.

Safe Work Australia is a good starting point because they develop policy for work health and safety and workers’ compensation:

Employers have a duty under the model Work Health and Safety laws to eliminate, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers also have a duty to consult workers regarding COVID-19 risks and how these risks are to be managed. This includes the introduction of workplace policies relating to vaccination.

How to minimise the risks

As business owners we are required to minimise the risks of COVID-19 in our workplace.

To do this we must continue to implement all reasonably practicable COVID-19 control measures such as:

  • ensuring your designers do not come to work when unwell
  • practising physical distancing
  • improving ventilation, where appropriate
  • practising good hygiene
  • increasing cleaning and maintenance, and
  • wearing masks (where mandated).

Another way to minimise risk is to negotiate a new employment contracts that stipulate employees must be vaccinated. If taking this route, it’s advisable to get legal advice.

You can lead a horse to water…

We can fairly expect that at least 10% of our population will not get vaccinated – that could include someone you work alongside. They may not be an anti-vaxxer – for some people there will be a a genuine medical reason. We need to take all this into account.

If a team member is an anti-vaxxer it would be appropriate to ask them to work remotely.

Getting everyone involved

Treat this as a design problem as relevant to clients as it is to your workplace. It requires input from everyone.

The problem is: how do we get everyone on-side with vaccination?

Great research can be found here on the Australian Government Department of Health site. It’s compiled under the heading Is it true? Get the facts on COVID-19 vaccines.

The challenge is to design an internal campaign presenting the research to the whole studio. Treat it like a design sprint. Use your regular methods or you could follow the Google six phases design sprint approach: Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Validate.

Assign time  but make it short and sharp. Maybe set up 3 x 2 hour sessions in a week. See how far that gets you to completing the six phases. Remember you only need to get it to an internal presentation stage to validate it.

Treat it as as case study you document and promote to your clients (as a new business marketing exercise). Collect the information ready to submit for a design award such as the AGDA Awards Design for Good category. Use this guideline to prepare your case study.

Entries into the Design for Good category will be assessed on the innovative use of design to promote ideals or deliver campaigns that are of a social, environmental, educational or political nature. The overriding assessment will still be how well an entry communicates a message using design principles but the intent of the work is what makes it eligible for this category.

Want more?

Every workplace differs – if you would like to discuss specifics around the management of your design business, contact Greg Branson.

Want to read more about where we were at when this all started? Read this: Caring, analysing and preparing a COVID 19 antidote


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About Greg Branson

Greg is a creative business coach with vast experience founding and managing an Australian design studio. He co-founded the Design Business Council to share his research and methods to improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed a series of processes and tools to help creatives manage their business better. He does that face to face and via online business coaching, specialising in small business mentoring. He can be contacted here.

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