Flat White

Coles: sacks unvaccinated staff, creates paid gender affirmation leave

19 May 2022

11:50 AM

19 May 2022

11:50 AM

Coles sacked the last of its unvaccinated staff at the beginning of this year, long after state mandates fell and other industries began allowing the so-called mavericks of the workforce back into the office. The move, along with other supermarket giants, saw thousands of Australians unceremoniously dumped, many of them single mothers or from struggling households.

Shop safe at Coles’ is something that looks good printed in big letters across double-page ads to those still suffering from anxiety hangovers. Just don’t ask too many questions about the health logic, given unvaccinated people can shop in the store, but not stand behind the counter.

Speaking of corporate virtue signalling.

The same company turned around this week and announced it would be offering its trans and gender-diverse employees ten extra days of paid leave for the purpose of ‘gender affirmation’. ‘Affirmation’ is a hazy term that Coles describes as ‘any process’ that relates to the act of gender affirmation including surgical, social, legal, or medical action. Leave could be granted for anything from an appointment with a lawyer through to full surgery.


Gender Affirmation Leave was timed to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia – one of the dozens of days and months dedicated to a sexual preference or pronouns.

Coles Chief Legal and Safety Officer, David Brewster, (who also serves as the Chair of the Pride Steering Committee), released a statement.

‘We know that we have at least 900 team members who identify as transgender or gender diverse. We need to have proper policy and education in this area so there is clear guidance around taking leave for this important transition in their life.’

Coles attached a long and bizarre ‘gender affirming’ statement that seems a little over the top for employment that largely involves stacking shelves and pushing trolleys. Its headings include ‘encouraging you to be your authentic self’ and ‘developing our Pride Team member network’ – which doesn’t sound like something employers should concern themselves with.

This move, described as ‘way ahead of politicians’ (add to that logic, reason, and fairness) is meant to be an action against ‘trans hate’. 2022 has transitioned into a world where an employer who is not constantly, publicly, and (preferably financially) ‘affirming’ an employee they must, by default, hate them. For most of human history, workers preferred their employers to keep their noses out of any private medical business.

‘You’ll be supported as the gender with which you identify, wear the clothes or uniform of your affirmed gender, use the toilets and change rooms of your affirmed gender and be referred to by the name of your affirmed gender too,’ read a statement, issued by Coles.

The statement leans heavily toward sentiments of anti-discrimination and equity – which is fine, one is simply left to wonder where this emotionally sensitive Coles hurt-feelings committee was when it was ruthlessly sacking unvaccinated staff who simply wanted to keep their jobs and their body autonomy at the same time. Coles went one step further, attempting to impose its vaccination policies on unrelated suppliers, contractors, partners, and anyone working onsite.

And no. If you’re an employee with a non-gender related medical or emotional issue, you’ll have to plan ahead and sacrifice some of your holiday leave when you run out of the standard state-sanctioned medical allotment. No one is going to give you a Woke Virtue point for a hip replacement.

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