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Vaccinations in the Workplace: Five Things Employers Should Know

Published March 02, 2021 (last updated May 24, 2022) - Head of Health and Safety

The vaccine rollout program has slowly commenced, starting with the vaccination of frontline workers who will be administering the vaccinations. Following this, the rollout will be staggered into groups, with the next to receive vaccinations being those deemed most at-risk in society, meaning those that are currently required under law to be tested regularly for COVID-19 (such as border workers and staff involved in managed insolation facilities). The household contacts of this group will also receive vaccinations.

By mid-2021, the Government hopes to begin vaccinating the broader community. Further information regarding the roll out is going to be released by the Government, including any changes if there is spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Even if your business isn’t in one of the first sectors or industries to receive the vaccinations, it is never too soon to start preparing.

There’s a lot to understand regarding the challenges for employers arising from the coming COVID-19 vaccine rollout. To help you better understand the challenges you may face, following are general outlines of five things Employsure recommends employers should know.

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The Vaccine Won’t Be Mandatory

The Government has announced the vaccine will not be made mandatory but rather will encourage New Zealanders to get vaccinated. 

There are also currently no legislative grounds or public health directives which permit an employer to mandate vaccinations in the workplace.

But Employers Have a Duty of Care

Every business has a duty under health and safety legislation (HSW) to do everything reasonably practicable to reduce the risk to the health and safety of persons at work. Therefore, in relation to COVID-19 an employer must do as much as they reasonably can to reduce the likelihood of infection transmission in the workplace.

While vaccinations form part of a business’ method of controlling the risk of infection, a business must also have other plans in place to manage the risk in addition to any workers being vaccinated.

So What Can You Do?

The vaccine won’t be mandatory –and on top of that, the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 provides a person the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment. This means your employees can refuse to be vaccinated But as an employer you have a duty of care to your employees.

Understandably, this might be leaving you scratching your head wondering what you can do.

If you believe there is a real and imminent risk to health and safety if the employee does not receive the vaccine, the employer must explore all reasonable alternatives.

These could include (but are not limited to):

  • Working from home or another location;
  • Alternative duties;
  • Additional PPE; or
  • Enhanced safety practices, such as additional cleaning, hygiene or distancing protocols.

Our Resources Can Help You Better Understand

Do you need further help in understanding COVID-19 vaccinations, and how they will affect you as an employer? You can find out more in our free guide and webinars that cover what employers should know about COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace.

BrightHR can also help you better manage your employees.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Kit for Employers

This kit can help you navigate vaccinations in the workplace.

Webinar: COVID-19 Vaccinations Employer Fundamentals

Don’t have enough time to read our guide? Tune into our webinar to get a quick dose of the fundamentals of COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace.

This blog has been compiled on the basis of general information current at the time of publication. Changes in circumstances after publication may affect the completeness or accuracy of this information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, we disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions contained in this information or any failure to update or correct this information. It is your responsibility to assess and verify the accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability of the information on this website, and to seek professional advice where necessary. Nothing contained on this website is to be interpreted as a recommendation to use any product, process or formulation or any information on this website. For clarity, Employsure does not recommend any material, products or services of any third parties. 

BrightHR Can Help You Too

Bring your employee management into the digital age with BrightHR. Access documents, roster employees on to shifts, manage leave and much more with BrightHR. Find out more about clicking the link below. 

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