Airtasker has launched a COVID-19 vaccination badge that can be used by those posting and carrying out tasks on the platform, following an increase in demand for transparency.
As the country races toward its reopening goals, companies ranging from corporate Australia to independent businesses and retailers are negotiating how best to ensure the safety of workers and patrons, as the government takes a mostly hands-off approach to mandating vaccination.
Tim Fung, chief executive and co-founder of Airtasker, told Business Insider Australia the company’s proactive approach was in line with its philosophy around connecting people.
“Airtasker is a marketplace that’s built on being able to create trust between service providers and the customers on our platform,” Fung said.
To that end, he said, all of its members will be able to apply for the badge, enabling them to make informed decisions about selecting who to work with.
The platform said it moved ahead with a verification for users after it experienced an 800% increase in the number of tasks requesting vaccinated service providers between March and July 2021, compared to the year prior.
Of course, few Australians were able to access the vaccine in 2020, but Fung said the company recognised that access to up-to-date information on the platform would be key to ensuring confidence as NSW and Victoria reopen.
Badges will be available to double vaccinated members of the Airtasker community and will “provide users with the option to make informed decisions, and feel safe, when choosing who to work with,” Airtasker said.
To apply for a vaccination badge, users will be required to upload their COVID-19 digital certificate (accessible via Medicare or myGov). This will then be reviewed by Airtasker and, once approved, the badge will automatically be added to the user’s profile.
Private companies negotiate vaccination rules
Currently under the NSW reopening plan, retail, hospitality and entertainment venues will require workers and patrons to be full vaccinated as it reopens at a 70% vaccination rate.
And Victoria’s roadmap, revealed Sunday, says Melbourne pubs, clubs and entertainment venues will also open to fully vaccinated patrons once the 70% target is met.
While some Australian corporations, including Qantas and SPC have said vaccination will be mandatory for employees, others including Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have set up vaccination hubs specifically for employees.
On Tuesday, the Victorian Government ordered a two-week shutdown of construction sites across the state after an anti-vaccine protest outside Melbourne union offices.
Under the state’s vaccine mandate, all construction workers will be required to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before midnight on Thursday, 23 September.
Amy Zhang, executive counsel at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, told Business Insider Australia that state governments needed to provide more clarity on what policing a vaccination mandate for public-facing businesses might look like.
“At the moment, there’s not a lot of detail from the government as to how that’s all going to work, and what exactly will be required of businesses,” Zhang said.
As a result, “it’s just very, very murky at the moment as to what exactly is the legal position depending on the particular business’s situation.”
Transparency on ‘both sides of the market’
Fung said the nature of Airtasker’s verification process around sharing information like ID checks, working with children checks and other accreditations, meant a digital badge made sense for the company.
“As usual, the way Airtasker has approached this has been to offer it as something that if you want to signal this to the market, you’re able to do that,” Fung said.
Fung said it was the right choice for the company to make the system voluntary, because many of the tasks offered are now virtual.
“We’re absolutely encouraging people to get vaccinated,” he said.
However, “people are doing things like tax returns,” on the platform, he said, and creating a mandatory requirement where it was not needed would create unnecessary friction.
“That gives people, both taskers and customers, the opportunity to choose who they want to work with.”
Fung said the level of transparency the platform will provide goes further than what’s been addressed “by a lot of the other platforms” and that it was incumbent on technology businesses to take the lead with their communities.
“I think as the government rolls out more and more sophisticated technology, we will integrate with that technology.”
Fung said that transparency on “both sides of the market” was “really, really important”, particularly in light of current tensions that are placing much of the onus on workers over customers and consumers.
“The taskers on our platform … we want to make sure that they feel as safe as our customers.”