Australian packaged fruit-and-veg products manufacturer SPC has become the first company in the country to insist all of its employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a statement sent to Just Food, SPC said all staff must have had all the necessary jabs by the end of November to gain entry to any company location.

The company, formed in 2019 from a buy-out of assets from Coca-Cola Amatil, said the measure will ensure the health and well-being of all staff and the broader community following the outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta variant in the country.

SPC, which also makes products including baked beans and tinned spaghetti and owns brands such as SPC, Ardmona and Goulburn Valley, said: “A fully-vaccinated workforce will ensure that SPC can continue to deliver an essential service while helping Australia return to an open economy in line with the Prime Minister’s four-point plan out of Covid.”

It said all SPC staff, including casual and permanent staff as well as contractors, must have at least the first dose of the vaccine scheduled by 15 September 2021. Any visitors to an SPC site will also be required to be vaccinated.

SPC chairman Hussein Rifai said: “Lockdowns are not a sustainable solution and the Australian economy needs to open up again. 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.

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“As a company, we believe it is the right thing to do and we must go further to minimise risk and to protect the people we care about from the Delta variant.”

Staff will be offered compensation via paid time off when required to receive their vaccinations as well as special paid leave of up to two days for any employee who becomes unwell after having the jab.

For those with a pre-existing condition who are unable to receive the vaccine, their circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.

SPC CEO Robert Giles added: “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,”

Earlier this week, US meat giant Tyson Foods announced it will require all its domestic employees to be fully-vaccinated against Covid by the beginning of November.