New Law - Employment and Vaccinations

New Law - Employment and Vaccinations

This week the Government released the Covid-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill ("Bill"), it is expected to be passed into law shortly.  

Termination of Employment

Termination of employment is one of the main provisions in the Bill. If an employee is not vaccinated and their work is covered by a public health order requiring vaccination, or the employer has determined the employee must be vaccinated to carry out their work (after following a health and safety assessment), the employee’s employment may be terminated.

If an employer is considering termination, the employer must:

• Give the employee reasonable written notice specifying the date by which the employee must be vaccinated to continue to work.

• Ensure that all other reasonable alternatives to termination have been exhausted.

If the employee is not vaccinated by the specified date, the employer must give the employee a minimum of four weeks' paid written notice of termination or the period of notice specified in the employee's employment agreement, whichever is the longer. If the employee becomes vaccinated during the notice period, the notice of termination is cancelled.

The above process does not prevent an employee from raising a personal grievance in respect of the dismissal. Employers are still required to consult with the employee and follow proper process.

Risk Assessment Tool

The Bill also allows for regulations to be made that prescribe an assessment tool that businesses can use to assess whether they need to require vaccination for different types of work. The Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, the Honourable Michael Wood, said the assessment tool “provides a clear, legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace”.

The assessment tool will specify four factors, at least three of which must be met for employers to require employee vaccinations. These are as follows: (1) the work space is less than 100 sqm of indoor space; (2) workers work less than one metre apart from others; (3) workers are regularly in close proximity to others for 15 minutes or more; and (4) workers provide services people to vulnerable to Covid-19.

The details will be released shortly.

Paid Time Off For Vaccination

The Bill also provides that employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off during their normal working hours to be vaccinated, provided the time off does not unreasonably disrupt the employer's business or the performance of the employee's employment duties.

You can access the Bill here - Covid-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill

Please reach out if you have any questions and direct any enquiries to:

Melissa Johnston (Partner) on (09) 306 6729 (mjohnston@mcveaghfleming.co.nz)

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Employment Law

Written by Melissa Johnston and Olivia Faulds

© McVeagh Fleming 2021

This article is published for general information purposes only.  Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  If you require specific legal advice in respect of any legal issue, you should always engage a lawyer to provide that advice.

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