Covid-19 Vaccines, Know Your Position

Updated: Dec 20, 2021


The information sourced primarily for the basis of this article is from MBIE.
OHS Consultants Limited Incorporating Take 5 assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this article. Organisations are encouraged to seek their advice from their own legal representative.
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There have been a number of conversations regarding a company’s position with ensuring employees have had the vaccine. This Safety Talk outlines some of the issues and questions you may have about work and the Covid-19 vaccine.



*This information was correct as at 20/05/2021 and was sourced from Ministry of

Business New Zealand website.


Please note ‘the duty of good faith’ in employment relationships and

consultation requirements under the Health and Safety at Work Act also apply to

conversations about workplace vaccination issues.


Supporting the Vaccine

It is encouraged that the company supports their workers to access the

vaccination without workers facing costs or disadvantage. For example:

• Allow workers to access the vaccination during work hours (when available)

for themselves and their dependents, without using annual leave or losing pay.

• Provide workers with relevant and timely information from the Ministry

of Health or District Health Boards and the importance and benefits of vaccination.

• Facilitating on-site vaccination if asked to do so by Ministry of Health or District Health n n Board.

• Assist with practical barriers of accessing the vaccine (eg. transport) and any health or support concerns.


Continuation of Other Public Health Measures

The vaccine does not replace other infection prevention and control measures, such

as eliminating the risk, or minimising the risk with use of relevant PPE, cleaning and

contact tracing methods/ Covid-19 QR codes.



The vaccine should be considered as part of a businesses health and safety activities

and Covid-19 Exposure Risk Assessments.


Vaccination Status

A business should not indirectly or directly discriminate against workers on the basis of

their vaccination status.


A worker does not need to disclose (or prove) their vaccination status to a business,

unless it has been deemed that the particular work concerned can be completed by

a vaccinated worker. In this case a business can ask a worker about the worker’s

vaccination status.


If the worker does not disclose or provide evidence of their vaccination status, the business may assume the worker has not been vaccinated for the purposes of managing health and safety risks. Businesses need to discuss this assumption with the worker and what will happen if the worker is not vaccinated or does not disclose their vaccination status.


Employees cannot be redeployed or disadvantaged for refusing to disclose their

vaccination status, unless particular work cannot be done by unvaccinated employees.


Vaccination Status (continued)

Businesses can only ask interview candidates if they are vaccinated when this

is justified by the requirement of the role that they are applying for. A Covid-19

Exposure Risk Assessment will need to be completed to determine a vaccine

as a control for hazards within a high risk company.



A persons vaccine status is personal information and collection, storage and

sharing of information about people’s vaccination status must be done in

accordance with the Privacy Act. Businesses must take reasonable steps to

ensure information is collect lawfully, including ensuring workers are aware of

how this information will be used, and why it is being collected. This information

cannot be passed on without the worker’s consent or otherwise allowed by the

Privacy Act.


Role Adjustments

This section applies where an employee does work that can only be done by a

vaccinated worker, either:

• For health and safety reasons justified by a Covid-19 exposure

risk assessment, or

• Because their work is covered by the COVID-19 Public Health Response

(Vaccinations) Order 2021


If employees are doing work deemed that can only be done by a vaccinated

worker, but are not vaccinated, employers will need to address any practical

barriers to accessing the vaccination (eg travel, time off) Employers should do

this before considering any employment options.


Employers should take care to be fair and reasonable in their response, and

work through processes with employees in good faith before deciding on any

outcome.



• Employers should consider how much of an employee’s work poses a high

risk exposure to Covid-19. Employees and employers can both agree to

change work arrangements (eg. location / hours) or duties, which could

mean a role no longer poses a risk. Employers and employees should try

reach a mutual agreement.

• Employers may also consider restructuring, including redundancies.


OHS Consultants recommend that you contact a Human Resources
representative to provide you with advice if you need to adjust a role or look at
restructuring / redundancies. Ministry of Business (Covid-19 Vaccine) website
can provide further information in this area.

Need Assistance?

Our team are available if you require assistance with completing Covid-19

Risk Exposure Assessments.


If you have questions regarding employment contracts and vaccination status,

please contact a Human Resources Representative.

Please contact us if you require any advice 0800 582 535 or check out our

website: https://www.ohsconsultants.nz




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