THE Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, has called on the state government to permit the use rapid testing for employees who are not vaccinated as an alternative to standing them down.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Mr O’Brien highlighted the need for more support for small business, and clearer information for employers and employees, about the consequences of the government’s mandatory vaccination requirement for authorised workers.

“I hold great concern for the impact of these directions on our local community, in particular on local businesses and their ability to keep their businesses staffed. There is no doubt it has also created great stress for employers and workers,” Mr O’Brien said.

“In the last two weeks, I have been inundated by people across a wide range of industries that are facing significant uncertainty due to an inability to backfill for unvaccinated workers as a direct result of the mandates.

“A local farmer contacted my office this week expressing her devastation at the prospect of being forced to lose great employees because of these mandates.

“The government has not provided any clarity to businesses who are worried about privacy, unfair dismissal and what unvaccinated workers are entitled to receive.”

Mr O’Brien said while he’s encouraging all of his constituents to get vaccinated, the reality is that not everyone wants to.

“There was already a critical shortage of workers in many industries, including education, childcare, hospitality and agriculture and these mandates will only exacerbate these issues by forcing business and providers to sack staff who have not been vaccinated,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said an inability to fill these vacancies in the immediate future would result in a significant impact on the wider community.

“Rapid testing is already being used in the health and transport sectors to reduce transmission risk, and there is certainly a case to be made for how it could be used to ensure these mandates don’t result in businesses and essential services across our community being forced to close,” he said.