Vaccines in the workplace

The information on this page has been gathered from reliable sources and is meant to provide general assistance to businesses and employees.

COVID-19 vaccination will not be needed for most work

Businesses should support workers in their right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated.

If there are practical barriers to accessing vaccination (e.g. travel or time off work is needed), businesses should help address these. Some workers will have individual health concerns or other reasons for needing support. Businesses should ensure they do not directly or indirectly discriminate against workers on the basis of their vaccination status.

Health and safety reasons for requiring work to be done by vaccinated workers

Businesses cannot require any individual to be vaccinated. However, businesses can require that certain work must only be done by vaccinated workers, where there is high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others. This will be a minority of all work in New Zealand. This could change if there is a significant shift in the COVID-19 situation domestically.

Assess whether a specific role needs to be performed by a vaccinated worker – WorkSafe(external link)

Public health guidelines for businesses and services – Ministry of Health(external link)

Reasons for requiring vaccination other than health and safety are unlikely to be sufficient, for example, requiring vaccination to promote your workplace as being fully vaccinated.

If certain work can only be done by vaccinated workers, businesses should set a reasonable timeframe for workers to decide if they will be vaccinated.

A person’s vaccination status is personal information

Collecting, storing and sharing information about people’s vaccination status must be done in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Privacy Act 2020 – Privacy Commissioner(external link)

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

Asking candidates whether they are vaccinated during a job interview

Businesses can only ask candidates if they are vaccinated when this is justified by the requirements of the role. For example, if a business decides, following a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment, that certain work cannot be performed by an unvaccinated worker, it may be reasonable to ask about an applicant’s vaccination status. This information will need to be collected and handled according to the Privacy Act.

Taking leave

An employer cannot make their employee take unpaid leave without their consent. If an employer has directed their employee to take unpaid leave, this could be seen as the employer unlawfully suspending the employee.

Sharing vaccine misinformation

Before any vaccine is approved for use in New Zealand, it must meet international standards and local requirements for quality, safety and efficacy. We should all play our part, by relying on trustworthy information about vaccine

Vaccine safety and approval – Unite Against COVID-19(external link)

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