Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Public Service Commission releases new COVID guidance

The NZ Public Service Commission has issued updated COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Guidance and Public Sector Workforce Guidelines following changes to the nation’s pandemic response announced this week.

Public Service Commissioner, Peter Hughes said agency chief executives were responsible for deciding how to apply the updated guidance within the context of their agencies.

“New Zealand’s Public Service has played a critical role in leading the Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery effort,” the Commissioner said.

“We need to ensure that the Public Service can continue to deliver on that mission, while continuing to serve New Zealand and New Zealanders, providing the services and support they rely on, as we return to normal living and working.

“This means we need our policies and settings in all Public Service agencies to continue to meet the needs of the New Zealanders with whom we engage as the course of the COVID-19 pandemic changes.

“We have already shifted from an elimination strategy utilising alert levels to one of minimisation and protection with the introduction of the COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF). These broad-based measures have been successful in preventing the worst impacts of COVID-19 seen overseas. High vaccination and booster rates have led to most people infected with Omicron only experiencing moderate to mild illness.”

He said the CPF envisaged COVID-19 will be in the community on an ongoing basis, and will continue as the framework for dealing with the virus.

“The end of the current wave does not signal the end of the pandemic. It is very likely there will be future waves and new variations with unknown severity. We need to plan for a range of scenarios and have systems in place to monitor risk and be able to be agile in response to developments.”

“The guidance is based on the current and immediately foreseeable COVID-19 context, it will be reviewed and updated as changes to circumstances require.”

Commissioner Hughes said the guidance provides for a consistent approach to dealing with COVID-19 in the community and its impact, implementing policies, health and safety assessments and processes across Public Service agencies and their workforces.

“At all levels of the CPF, the guidance supports the expectation that all public servants who can be vaccinated are vaccinated, and those eligible for boosters receive them in a timely manner.”

“This consistency and alignment will support continuity of public services for New Zealanders, including those that are public facing. It will also support us to maintain the trust and confidence New Zealanders have in government and the Public Service.

“Above all else, the guidance aims to protect the communities with which public servants engage, and the health and safety of public servants themselves, while ensuring New Zealanders can access the services they need, in accordance with the CPF.”

The guidance also supports agencies to normalise the management of leave in operating under the CPF, he said.

Click to read the updated guidelines.

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