Update – COVID-19 vaccinations and your employees

Over the last couple of months, there has been quite a bit of communication to the general public on the COVID-19 vaccination roll out. We wanted to make you, as a business owner and manager, are aware of your responsibilities with regards to your employees.

See the below links from Government for detailed information and sign up for further updates.

Vaccines and the workplace » Employment New Zealand

COVID-19 vaccinations and your workers — business.govt.nz

Here are some key points of interest:

  • Government expects you to promote the vaccination program in a positive light.
  • You cannot force an employee to get the vaccine.
  • You cannot discriminate/penalise if an employee refuses to get the vaccine.
  • You need to offer reasonable paid time off to the employee for them and their dependants to get the vaccine, taking into account the ability to travel etc.
  • As a business, you must take steps to eliminate or reduce risks, this may mean you need to make sure your staff are protected from exposure to COVID-19 whilst at work.
  • Don’t market your business as being fully vaccinated nor should this be the reason you require employees to get vaccinated.
  • You cannot ask in an interview about the vaccination status of a potential employee unless there are justified requirements to the role, that require your knowledge of this.
  • You cannot disclose to the rest of your staff the vaccination status of any one person in your team.
  • Both you and the employee need to work together to find a mutually acceptable position around work and vaccinations including what they can and cannot do.
  • “Ultimately an employer and employee may agree to a negotiated end of employment, but individual dismissals are unlikely to be justifiable in almost all cases, based on current circumstances.” – directly from the government employment website. Step very carefully!

Please always seek professional advice prior to dealing with this issue and employees. They are your greatest asset, and you want to keep them working with and for you. Do not create a negative environment in the workplace over this subject.

It is very important you meet with your team and give them this information and support them through their decision-making processes. Front footing the subject and being very open and positive about this with your team will go a long way.