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Qantas has announced it will require its frontline staff to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by November, joining SPC as the second major Australian company to commit to the move.

In a statement, the company said its decision to mandate had been backed by a staff survey showing an overwhelming majority of its workforce either were vaccinated or planned to be and many supported mandatory jabs.

Qantas will require its frontline staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by November.Credit:James Brickwood

“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day,” said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. “Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us.”

The move will test industrial law, which most experts say does permit mandatory vaccination in high-risk industries like aviation.

“We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers,” said Mr Joyce.

SPC, the food manufacturing firm, has faced resistance from the union representing its workers and online threats from anti-vaccination activists in the wake of its decision to require jabs.

Unions and businesses are meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the issue of workplace vaccination and will hear from the regulators that have oversight of aspects of any employers’ mandatory vaccination plans.

Qantas will require all its staff, even those who are not in frontline roles to be vaccinated by the end of March next year. Frontline staff must be double jabbed by November 15. Medical exemptions will apply and there will be consultation with unions, the company said.

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