New contracts in New Zealand can include vaccination requirement

Workplace relations minister has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccination requirements can be written into new employment agreements.
By: | August 30, 2021

However, minister Michael Wood said the requirements cannot be added to existing agreements unless agreed to by both parties. 

The issue was raised by National MP Scott Simpson who asked Wood whether employers can require staff to be vaccinated during a virtual meeting of Parliament’s Education and Workforce Committee. 

Wood said, “I have regular ongoing dialogue with both of our social partners, Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions. I can quite honestly tell you that I haven’t been pressed by either of them to move in this direction of requiring the Government to move in the direction of vaccination of all people in the workplace. 

“But there is a bit of a distinction between people who are currently in their employment and the ability of employers to set requirements for new people who they might employ in the future.” 

Paul Stocks from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) provided a more concrete confirmation.  

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“As people enter new employment agreements, you can of course specify the terms and conditions… and you could include vaccination status as part of that. The challenge is where you’ve got an existing employment relationship, and existing employment agreement, changing that without negotiation can’t take place.” 

The country has so far mandated vaccinations for border workers. However, whether to get inoculated remains voluntary for the rest of the population, according to Newshub.