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The vaccine rollout - Do workers have to get vaccinated?

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccination is free, available to all New Zealanders and it is not mandatory.

You can’t force someone to get vaccinated. You can make it as easy as possible for them to get vaccinated by giving them paid time off to get vaccinated.

If you think particular work needs to be done only by vaccinated workers, on health and safety grounds, you must first do a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment. This assessment needs to be done in collaboration with workers, unions and other representatives.

When carrying out a risk assessment, you’ll need to consider:

  • the likelihood of workers being exposed to COVID-19 while performing the role, and

  • the potential consequences of that, eg community transmission.

WorkSafe has more detailed guidance on risk assessments.

Get legal advice if you think particular work in your business needs to be done only by vaccinated workers. At present, this is likely to apply to only a small number of roles, so it will be important to take advice and document what is relevant for your business.

Employers need to be aware that existing employment law obligations still apply. This includes:

  • making changes to terms and conditions of employment by agreement

  • engaging in consultation in good faith

  • avoiding unlawful discrimination against workers on the basis of vaccination status, and

  • not taking actions which might unjustifiably disadvantage workers on the basis of vaccination status.

Employment NZ has more detailed guidance on employment implications of COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination and employment – Employment New Zealand

Getting the right information matters. There is plenty of incorrect information about COVID-19 vaccine on social media and other places. Point your employees to the right places to ensure they can get accurate and trusted information to help their decision making.

They can get factual information from Ministry of Health and the Unite Against COVID websites or by calling Healthline on 0800 3585453.

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