Workplace vaccination legislation to come into effect

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 12, 2021

The Government’s new legislation outlining workplace vaccination requirements is expected to be in place by the end of the month.

The legislation means workers at businesses where vaccine passports are required will have four weeks to get vaccinated.

To align with the recently announced COVID-19 Protection Framework, the Government will mandate vaccinations for workers at businesses where customers need to show Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates, mostly close-contact businesses.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern and Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood announced the details of the vaccine mandates with its new traffic-light system, which comes into play once New Zealand has reached a double vaccination rate of 90%.

The mandate is expected to come into effect by the end of November.

For businesses where a Government vaccine mandate is not in place, the law will include a risk assessment process for employers to follow when deciding whether they can require vaccination for different types of work.

Employers will have to consult workers and their representatives when making risk assessments about whether their staff need to be vaccinated.

This will cover factors such as who workers interact with during their work days, and how close that contact is, as well as ensuring critical infrastructure and lifeline utilities can continue even if there has been exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace. This risk assessment will build on guidance already provided by WorkSafe.

Employers will be able to exempt employees from their vaccination mandates, such as those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The legislation will also include provisions for paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, which the Government says will help raise workplace vaccination rates.

If an employee chooses not to get vaccinated for work that requires it, employment law will still apply.

The law change will introduce four weeks’ paid notice for any employee who has their job terminated because they are not vaccinated, and whose job requires it.

Regular employment law still applies, and employers and workers must discuss in good faith the implications of the Covid-19 response and recovery on their working arrangements.

The legislation is expected to come into effect in December.