Covid vaccine for NZ

Can you make Covid vaccines compulsory?

As the vaccination programme rolls out across New Zealand, you might be wondering what your obligations are as an employer.

Employment New Zealand has released some guidelines to help employers understand their role in the vaccination process. Below is a very brief summary of their recommendations, and you should visit their website for more detailed information or download the one-page PDF for your workplace.

What should you do?

  • Encourage and support your employees to get the Covid-19 vaccination.
  • Offer paid time off for your employees to be vaccinated if possible.
  • Have discussions with your team about the vaccinations and provide them with information.

You can ask an employee whether they have been vaccinated, but they don’t have to tell you. If they do tell you, it’s important to protect their privacy and not share their vaccination status with anyone else, unless they give you permission.

Following the rules

  • You cannot require a person to be vaccinated. However, a specific role might need to be carried out by a person who is vaccinated. In that case, you’ll need to carry out a health and safety assessment.
  • You should not argue with employees about why they might choose not to be vaccinated or be unable to receive a vaccine.
  • Immunisation status is not a valid reason to dismiss someone; Employment NZ notes that “individual dismissals are unlikely to be justifiable in almost all cases.”

Keep up to date with official advice

Watch for updates from the Government as the Covid-19 vaccinations reach more groups within New Zealand. You can find the latest information about the vaccine roll-out here.

There’s also a great blog on this topic by Lisa Mackay from HR Toolkit which is concise and easy to understand. Read it here.

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