Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Steve Vitt)

One of the most important and potentially divisive issues in the transition to "living with COVID" is the willingness of businesses outside the immediate health and caring professions to require their workers to be vaccinated.

Food manufacturer SPC decided to take the lead with a vaccine mandate to come into force over the next two months for its workers. Its legal authority to do that, however, is contested, and there's no clear advice from the Fair Work Commission or Safe Work Australia. Safe Work Australia tells employers: "You must do all that is reasonably practicable to minimise this risk and vaccination should be considered as one way to do so in the context of a range of COVID-19 control measures" but "it is unlikely that a requirement for workers to be vaccinated will be reasonably practicable".

As Crikey forecast -- albeit in a much shorter timeframe than we expected --  businesses are calling for clarification by the government on what they rightly term a "grey area". The SPCs of the industry can afford litigation brought by workers or unions, but smaller firms can't, and need something a bit better than "is unlikely".