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Govt Tool To Support Workplace Vaccination Decision-making Launches

  • Vaccination assessment tool available today, guiding businesses on vaccine requirements for workers
  • Employers required to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated
  • Mandate for Police and NZDF comes into effect at 11:59pm today

“Today the Government has launched an assessment tool to help businesses make decisions on vaccine requirements for workers,” Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced.

“Vaccinations remain our best tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help keep our workplaces, communities and whānau safe. More than 89 per cent of eligible New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated, which demonstrates the massive effort already undertaken by individuals and workplaces across the country.

“Businesses have been calling for clear rules in law to help guide decisions on vaccine requirements for workers. We have delivered on that, with a new, simplified tool to assess when it is reasonable to require vaccination for work, which will be particularly helpful to small businesses.

“The assessment tool builds on guidance already provided by WorkSafe. It specifies four key factors, covering public health considerations. At least three of the factors must be met before it is reasonable to require vaccination for particular work,” Michael Wood said.

The vaccination assessment tool includes the following four factors: the work environment, whether the worker can maintain one metre physical distancing, the length of time the worker is in close proximity to another person, and whether the worker provides services to people who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

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“I’m aware that many businesses have already conducted their own health and safety risk assessments to determine whether vaccination is required. This new process won’t override those assessments, and businesses can choose which assessment process to follow.

“As per normal health and safety processes, any decisions about workplace vaccination requirements must be made in consultation with workers and their representatives, like unions.

“The clarity and detail in the tool provides confidence to businesses and workers that the right process is being followed,” Michael Wood said.

......................................................................

· Non-vaccinated employees doing work that requires vaccination (either under mandates or an employer requirement) are now entitled to four weeks’ paid notice if their employment agreements are terminated. This gives these employees a final chance to get vaccinated before their employment agreements are terminated.

· Employers will be required to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.

· Employers can also require vaccination where a third party has made this a condition (e.g., to access a clients’ premises to work). However, just like when using the tool, employers will need to work through any potential employment consequences of requiring vaccination for this reason.

· These measures will be monitored to ensure that they remain an appropriate part of the Government’s COVID-19 response and will be amended when required or removed when no longer required.

Vaccination assessment tool:

· More information on the vaccination assessment tool can be found on Business.govt.nz at https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/vaccination-assessment-tool.

· The tool includes the following four factors:

· You will need to answer ‘yes’ for at least three factors before it would be reasonable to require vaccination for particular work.

· It will be optional for businesses to use the tool. They will still be able to use other health and safety risk assessment processes. The tool will not override any risk assessments that have already been done. More information on his can be found on business.govt.nz at https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/vaccination-assessment-tool.

· In the tool, the factor relating to people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 is defined as people who are:

o under the minimum age to be vaccinated;

o exempt from being vaccinated under a COVID-19 order; or

o at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

· The Unite Against COVID-19 website has a section that sets out who is at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19 and the definition of people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 is based on this definition: https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay-safe/about-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk-of-severe-illness-from-covid-19.

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