Iconic fruit processing business SPC is at the forefront of private companies in Australia by mandating that all its staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of November to gain entry to any company location.
The decision mirrors moves made internationally by other companies like Microsoft, Google and Disney, with SPC stressing the decision will ensure the health and wellbeing of all staff and the broader community.
"Lockdowns are not a sustainable solution and the Australian economy needs to open up again," SPC chairman Hussein Riafi said.
"The Delta variant poses a significant threat to our people, our customers and the communities we serve. The only path forward for our country is through vaccination.
"As a company, we believe it is the right thing to do and we must go further to minimise risk and to protect the people we care about from the Delta variant."
As part of the mandate, all casual and permanent staff as well as contractors must have at least the first dose of the vaccine scheduled by September 15, with the first dose administered by the end of October.
Any visitors to a site run by Shepparton-based SPC, famous for its Goulburn Valley and SPC brands, will also be required to be vaccinated.
To support workers all staff will be offered compensation via paid time off when required to receive their vaccination as well as special paid leave of up to two days for any staff who may become unwell after receiving the jab.
For those with a pre-existing condition and are unable to receive the vaccine, their circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
"We have already implemented rigorous safety plans at all our sites in response to the pandemic," SPC CEO Robert Giles said.
"These plans have ensured our people's health, safety and job security while ensuring business continuity for the essential service we provide to the broader community. But Australian companies must go further by rapidly vaccinating their staff.
"By taking proactive steps now, we are shoring up our company for the future. We firmly believe that it will be manufacturers and innovators like SPC who will help drive Australia's post-COVID economic recovery."
Updated at 9.33am AEST on 5 August 2021.
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