Can you require your staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19?

As the Delta strain hit the shores of NZ this question is getting asked more often.

The current guidance is that where there is a high risk of contracting and/or transmitting Covid-19 there could be a reason for requiring some types of work to be done only by vaccinated staff.  This means that there must be health and safety reasons for such a requirement and that any assessments need to be considered on a role-by-role basis.  

There are a number of border and frontline roles that are covered by legislation requiring workers doing the work in these specified sectors to be vaccinated.   

For all other work a Covid-19 safety risk assessment would need to be carried out before any requirement to be vaccinated is made of an existing, or new employee.   WorkSafe have provided templates and guidance to help with this. 

Vaccination guidance remains open to change so it is recommended that this is regularly reviewed by employers.

If you are collecting information about the vaccination status of your workers, good communication about the reasons for this is essential. The requirements of the Privacy Act will need to be adhered to.  This includes the requirement to be clear about why information is being collected, who would have access to it and how it would be used, shared & stored.

Where employers are providing services to ‘other parties’, we are hearing first reports of those other parties requirements for certain work to be performed by vaccinated workers only.  Understanding the risk assessments and what control measures need to be considered are important in these situations.  It may be that as the employer you already have more control measures in place than the other party.  If the other party does impose a requirement for all your workers carrying out services for them to be vaccinated, careful planning will be needed to ensure all privacy, Human Rights and employment law considerations can be covered off. 

If you are considering making it a requirement for any of your workers or Contractors to be vaccinated or to disclose if they are vaccinated contact a member of the Grow HR team for further advice on the employment considerations.