New Zealand makes vaccination mandatory for hospitality staff

Employees of businesses where customers are required to show vaccine certificates will be given four weeks to also get the jab or face sacking
By: | October 28, 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an across-the-board vaccine mandate for businesses in the hospitality sector, and others including gyms, barbers, and hairdressers where customers are required to have vaccine certificates.

“If customers should be vaccinated, so should staff”, Ardern said, adding the system “was designed to bring simplicity to employers”.

The mandate will raise questions about what happens when staff refuse to be vaccinated. A minimum four-week termination process will be introduced for any employee who loses their job for refusing a vaccination, said workplace relations minister Michael Wood, adding that employers could exempt staff from the mandate if the latter are medically unfit for inoculation.

The change will only apply to employees who do not have a notice period. Once the notice period starts, the worker will have the four-week period to get vaccinated and show proof of it, Wood said.

“Some employees may find it hard to get vaccinated because they don’t have time amid their family commitments. To help with this, employers will be urged to allow their staff to be vaccinated during work hours and provide other measures to make it as easy as possible,” he said.

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Wood added that Worksafe NZ would be given a further NZ$4.4m (US$3.15) to help it with education and enforcement to ensure businesses and staff follow the new vaccine mandate.

The timing of the new system coming into effect will depend on when Auckland and New Zealand move into the government’s new “traffic-light” system for managing the Delta outbreak – but it could come earlier in Auckland, according to Otagio Daily Times.