Monday, May 27, 2024

New vaccination tool for business

A new simplified vaccination assessment tool will help employers decide if their staff require a COVID-19 vaccination to work, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Michael Wood has announced today.

He said the Government was building on measures to protect businesses and workers from COVID-19 as the country gets ready to transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework on December 3.

“Employers and employees have been asking for certainty on what roles may need to be done by vaccinated workers under the COVID-19 Protection Framework,” Mr Wood said.

“Vaccine requirements in the workplace are a common tool many countries around the world are using to stop the spread of COVID and to protect their workers and customers from the virus.                           

“We’ve developed a tool to help clarify what work should be covered by vaccinated workers and to create a simple and clear tool for assessing when it is reasonable to require vaccination for other work.”

He said the tool provides a clear, legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace, builds on the guidance provided by WorkSafe and has had input from BusinessNZ and the CTU.

“The tool will specify four key factors, at least three of which must be met, before it would be reasonable to require vaccination for particular work,” the Minister said.

“This new process won’t override risk assessments that businesses have already done under the existing health and safety guidelines. Businesses can choose which one they use, and any assessments done to date remain valid.

“We understand that businesses and workers need certainty. Legislation allowing the vaccination assessment tool to be created, as well as introducing four weeks’ paid notice of termination and paid time off to get vaccinated, will be passed under urgency this week. This legislation will come into effect the day after it is passed. The assessment tool will then be available for businesses to use once regulations are made in mid-December under the amended law.

“It’s common sense to ensure staff in workplaces that are either required to or can use the My Vaccine Pass are vaccinated. This is regardless of whether the business chooses to require My Vaccine Passes from customers or attendees. It gives confidence to the customers who are vaccinated and means the business will be less likely to be affected by cases.”

The Minister said the tool had tested with stakeholders and had received broad support, including from religious communities.

“Everyone wants to keep their staff, customers and congregations safe,” he said.

The requirement to be vaccinated applies to hospitality, events, gatherings, close contact businesses and gyms. To continue doing work in these areas, workers will need to have their first vaccination by the day that the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into effect, which will be Friday December 3.

“These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by 17 January 2022 to continue doing that work,” Mr Wood said.

“91% of New Zealanders have already had one dose of the vaccine, so for the overwhelming majority this requirement isn’t an issue. For those who are not yet vaccinated, especially workers in areas where My Vaccine Passes can be applied, there are 10 days left to get your first dose.

“It is free, safe and the most effective way to keep you, your whānau, business and customers safe. It’s a simple contribution to keeping all New Zealanders safe from COVID-19,” he said

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