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Managing COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace

Published January 01, 2021 (last updated January 24, 2022) -

Are you confused about how to manage COVID-19 vaccinations in your business? You’re not alone! There are a lot of questions out there so here is some guidance especially for your small business.

Mandatory Vaccinations

In April 2021 the government announced the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 meaning that certain sectors were subject to mandatory vaccination. The sectors currently subject to this order are the border, health and education sectors.

According to the Order, if you operate your business in one of these sectors, or support these sectors, some or all of your workers must be vaccinated. If they refuse to be vaccinated, as an Employer, there are some options you can look at undertaking:

  • they need to move to a role that is not covered by the order;
  • they can take leave (with your agreement); or
  • you may be able to terminate their employment.

The COVID-19 Protection Framework

The next stage of the COVID-19 response plan is aimed at providing a pathway out of lockdown to give vaccinated New Zealanders more freedoms. This is commonly referred to as the Traffic Light System with red, amber and green  levels giving various levels of freedoms and restrictions. This will be implemented once 90% of eligible New Zealanders are double vaccinated.

The key to this system is the use of Vaccination Certificates for businesses or organisations where people are in close contact, such as hospitality, gatherings, weddings and civil unions, funerals and tangi, indoor and outdoor events, close contact businesses e.g., hairdressers, gyms and education.

These organisations can choose whether they want to require proof of vaccination or not, and this determines how they will operate as below

Requires proof of vaccinations

If a business or organisation requires proof of vaccinations:

  • there will be no limit in Green and Orange levels with some restrictions in the Red level;
  • businesses will not be required to close;
  • employees must be vaccinated.

Does not requires proof of vaccinations

If a business or organisation does not request proof of vaccination:

  • they will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements;
  • they may need to close in Orange and Red levels;
  • employees do not have to be vaccinated.

What Happens if Employees Can’t or Don’t Want to be Vaccinated?

People who have an underlying medical condition may not be able to be vaccinated. However, the Immunisation Advisory Centre reports that there are fewer than 100 people in New Zealand in this group. These people can apply for a Ministry of Health Vaccination Exemption.

People who have a genuine political or religious belief may not want to get vaccinated so it comes down to whether they are subject to mandatory vaccination, or your business requires vaccination certificates. If businesses fall into either the mandatory or vaccination certificate categories, you may be able to terminate the employee if you cannot find a safe alternative to dismissal.

Next Steps

With all these changes in mind, it is important that you have the right documentation for your employees in place and understand how to undertake the employment processes discussed above to mitigate unnecessary claims. Employsure Face2Face can assist you in:

  • Reviewing your policies
  • Undertaking risk assessments regarding vaccinations in the workplace
  • Assist with any disciplinary or termination procedures

Our Face2Face Business Partners can assist you – either onsite or via videoconference – to review your policies, meet with your team, and manage the vaccination status process. Give us a call on 0800 568 012 today.

Get Workplace Advice Now

Call us now for free, initial advice about vaccinations.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of ANZ’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 30,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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