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Government widens vaccine mandate for employees

Government widens vaccine mandate for employees

Government widens vaccine mandate for employees

Wednesday 27 October, 2021

The Government has announced new legislation to provide greater clarity to employers about when they can mandate vaccines. This is essentially a new vaccine mandate which aligns with the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) and requires the vaccination of all workers at businesses where customers need to show Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates, such as hospitality and close-contact businesses. The vaccine mandate will only apply to businesses which choose to operate using vaccine certificates, however, there will be significant restrictions on hospitality and close-contact businesses at Red and Orange if they choose not to use vaccine certificates.

For businesses where the Government has not introduced a vaccine mandate, the law will introduce a clearer and simplified risk assessment process for employers to follow to determine whether they can require vaccination for certain work. The new process will be built on the guidance that has been provided by WorkSafe and will not override risk assessments that businesses have already carried out under the existing health and safety guidelines.

The new legislation will also introduce a four-week notice period for non-vaccinated employees in roles requiring vaccination before employment can be terminated. The notice period will only apply to employees without a notice period, or whose notice period is less than four weeks, and provides an opportunity for the employee to reconsider their decision regarding vaccination.

Other key points to note:

  • Employers will have to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and will need to keep records about workers’ vaccination status.
  • Employees may be exempt if they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

If an employee chooses not to get vaccinated for work that requires it, employment law will still apply. Employees and employers must continue to deal in good faith. Employers must still consider all reasonable alternatives, such as finding other work within the business that does not require vaccination.

The legislation will come into effect to align with the move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework, which relies on New Zealand reaching 90% vaccination. Vaccine certificates are expected to be available from late November 2021.


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