Canned food producer SPC will become the first non-health-related Australian business to ban employees from the workplace unless they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The mandate will be effective from the end of November, the company announced on Thursday.
All SPC staff, including casual and permanent staff and contractors, must have had at least their first dose of the vaccine scheduled by 15 September, and administered by the end of October.
Any visitors to SPC sites will also be required to be vaccinated.
SPC chairman Hussein Rifai said the 100-year-old company made the decision to ensure the well being of workers and the community.
“Lockdowns are not a sustainable solution and the Australian economy needs to open up again,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
All SPC workers will be offered paid time off to get their vaccinations.
They will also get special paid leave of up to two days if they become unwell after vaccination.
SPC noted that there might be some workers with a pre-existing condition who are unable to be vaccinated and their circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.
SPC chief executive Robert Giles said the company was setting an example for others.
“Australian companies must go further by rapidly vaccinating their staff,” he said.
“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.”
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie said it was a good move.
“The last thing we need is for food suppliers, which are so crucial, to be shutting down,” she told Nine Network.
“I applaud them, (for) having the guts to come out and do that.”
SPC is Australia’s premier producer of packaged fruit and its brands include Ardmona, Goulburn Valley, SPC, ProVital, Kuisine and PomLife.
It’s based in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria.