The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is well underway in New Zealand. Both employers and employees should understand the guidelines around the vaccine.
MIQ workers and their families, and people classified as “high-risk” by the Ministry of Health have already been or are currently being vaccinated. The Ministry of Health reports that vaccinations for everyone aged 16 years or over who is not already eligible began on 28 July 2021. This will start with people over the age of 60, and progress downwards through age bands, with the final age group of 16-35 year olds receiving vaccinations from October 2021.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) provided guidelines for employers and employees in relation to COVID-19 vaccinations:
• Should engage early and constructively with workers regarding vaccinations.
• Can ask employees if they have been vaccinated (although note that employees do not have to disclose this information).
• May assume an employee has not been vaccinated if the employee does not disclose their vaccination status – however, employers should first inform the employee of this assumption before acting on it.
• Must protect employees personal information about vaccination status, and cannot share it without the employees consent.
• Cannot require an existing employee to be vaccinated, however, can require vaccination as a condition for new employees (this must be reasonable for the role).
• Can require a specific role to be done by a vaccinated person for health and safety reasons, however, employers must first do a health and safety risk assessment to support such a requirement. This assessment must be done in collaboration with employees/unions/other representatives.
• Do not have to tell their employer if they have been vaccinated or not.
• If they have not been vaccinated, they do not have to tell their employer why this is the case.
For further insight and to keep up with the latest information surrounding the vaccine please visit the New Zealand COVID-19 official website here.