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News from NZ Māori Tourism and Māori tourism experiences around Aotearoa New Zealand

Workplace Vaccinations - what you need to know

We’ve put together some information from Ministry of Health, COVID-19.govt.nz, WorkSafe, and Employment NZ about the COVID Protection Framework, and the new law changes that include vaccination mandates and the risk assessment framework.

It is still unclear how these new law changes will affect tourism directly. We will keep you updated as new information unfolds.

Today, the Prime Minister announced that people travelling across the Auckland border can freely do so from Wednesday 15 December so long as they are fully vaccinated or can produce a negative COVID test from within 72 hours. You can see the PM's press conference update here.

 

COVID-19 workplace vaccination legislation

What did the Government announce?

On 26 October, the Government announced law changes to:

  • Mandate vaccination for work where:
    - Customers must show a COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (CVC) to enter places, or
    - This is needed to continue exporting goods to an overseas market.
     
  • Create a risk assessment framework for employers to follow so they can assess whether roles in their business / organisation require vaccination for different types of work / roles.
     
  • Require employers to give employees paid time off to be vaccinated.
     
  • Create a four-week paid notice period for unvaccinated workers whose employment is terminated because their work requires vaccination.

The Government also announced it is considering whether additional vaccination mandates are needed for other types of work, where there is strong public interest in doing so.

COVID Protection Framework / Traffic light system

The CPF, otherwise known as the traffic light system, will replace the current alert level system.

The traffic light system has three settings: green, orange and red. Each setting is designed to help manage outbreaks and cases.

Main difference with the traffic light system:

  1. It uses vaccination certificates
  2. Business can continue under red, orange and green with vaccination certificates
  3. It allows for more localised lockdowns, dependent on the number of vaccinations in the community.

The Government will announce on Monday 29 November when Aotearoa NZ will move into the traffic light system. Auckland will move directly into Red.

The rest of the country will move, at the same time as Auckland,  into Orange. However, if vaccination remains low in regions, those regions will move into Red. 

Click here for details on each level of the CPF.

Vaccination certificates and mandates

Vaccination certificates

From this afternoon, the My Vaccine Pass is available through the My COVID Record website. This is a domestic vaccination certificate that allows you to access places in Aotearoa NZ that require proof of your vaccination status. You can sign in with your personal email. You may need to provide proof of identity, such a passport, driver's license or birth certificate.

Anyone in New Zealand aged 12 or over can sign up for My COVID Record.

If you are unable to access My COVID Record online, you can call 0800 222 478 and the COVID Record support team will prepare your pass or certificate for you. You should have your NHI number ready. It’s the number at the top right-hand corner on any letters you have received from the hospital or doctor.

You can find more information here.

You will not be required to show proof of vaccination to access supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, food banks and petrol stations.

Do I need to ask my customers for a vaccination certificate?

It is optional to require a vaccination certificate for many locations under the new traffic light system. Some settings or places will be higher risk (increased risk of COVID transmissions), and will be required to ask for vaccination certificates to open to the public, like gyms or hairdressers.

At all levels, businesses, retail, and public facilities will generally be able to remain open for vaccinated people.

Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement for customers.

Under the Green and Orange traffic light system of the CPF, there will be no limits if vaccination certificates are used for:

  • hospitality
  • gatherings, such as at places of worship or marae
  • weddings and civil union ceremonies
  • funerals and tangihanga
  • events (indoor/outdoor)
  • close contact businesses (for example, hairdressers)
  • gyms

So far, the Government has instructed work must be done by vaccinated people in these specific sectors (these are a public health requirement):

  • Border and managed isolation and quarantine workers
  • Health and disability workers
  • Prison workers
  • Education sector

If a business, organisation or service does not wish to request proof of vaccine, they will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. They may need to close in Orange and/or Red levels.

Click here to read what you can do at each of the traffic light's colour/level.

When will these new laws come into effect?

Once the country moves into the traffic light system. Government is expected to make an announcement on  Monday 29 November 2021.

How will my tourism business be affected?

This is not yet clear. Industry bodies are working with Government to get clarification.

  • WorkSafe has provided some guide to risk assess your place of work.
  • Employment NZ has provided some guidelines on Employment and Privacy laws.

Risk Assessment Framework

What is the risk assessment framework?

Businesses that don’t have a vaccination mandate (like those sectors mentioned previously) will soon have a new assessment process to assess if work at their business needs to be done by vaccinated people.

Employers can require work to be done by a vaccinated employee, if your risk assessment identifies this is necessary for health and safety purposes.

In your assessment of each role in your place of work, you might consider:

  • who do workers interact with during their workdays
  • workers’ proximity to others
  • how your business will operate if there has been an exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace
  • whether public health measures such as physical distancing and PPE gear can be applied

Click here for further advice form WorkSafe, including specific questions you can use as a guide for your risk assessment.

Can I make my staff get vaccinated?

You can’t force any individual to get vaccinated, but you can require that certain types of work, roles or positions must only be done by vaccinated workers if there is a high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others. 

This applies to workers, contractors, volunteers etc.

The new laws also mean that you must give your staff paid time off to receive their COVID-19 vaccination.

According to Employment NZ, if you have assessed that your employee’s role needs to be vaccinated, you, are responsible for confirming whether your employee is vaccinated.

Generally, a worker doesn’t have to tell you if they’ve been vaccinated, or if they intend to get vaccinated. But you can ask them about it if a role can’t be done by someone who’s unvaccinated.

If they then choose not to tell you or can’t offer proof they’ve been vaccinated, you can treat them as unvaccinated, but you have to tell them that’s what you’re doing. 

You should consider reasonable alternatives, such as finding other work within the business that does not require vaccinations.  

MBIE’s early resolution service and mediation service is available to assist with any issues that may arise in workplaces.

Employment NZ has further guidance on vaccines and the workplace, as well as information on protecting the privacy of personal information.

Who will enforce these changes?

WorkSafe will be responsible for ensuring businesses have carried out risk assessments. The Ministry of Health is responsible for public health and making changes in the CPF settings.

What can I do until 29 November, when the announcement is made?

The best thing you can do at this stage is to encourage your staff to get vaccinated.

The COVID-19 website has this business and workplace toolkit to help workplaces, non-profit groups and other organisations support COVID-19 vaccinations in their community.

Business.govt.nz has also put together this great Q&A for Employers with responses from Government experts.

Noho ora mai,

NZ Māori Tourism.

 

 

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