Some Kiwi businesses are starting to implement no jab, no job policies with employment lawyers inundated by those trying to figure out what is and isn’t allowed.
1 NEWS can reveal the Department of Conservation is requiring all new hut wardens, campground hosts and visitor centre staff to be vaccinated. Sudima Hotels is considering implementing a similar policy too.
Auckland employment lawyer Michael O’Brien says particularly since lockdown, the queries from businesses have started ramping up. “We are fielding a lot more inquiries from businesses about whether they can make it a mandatory requirement for employees to be vaccinated”.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website has recently been updated with advice for business.
“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," the advice states.
The Department of Conservation told 1 NEWS they’ve assessed hut wardens, campground hosts and visitor centre staff are at higher risk.
“These three roles all have a high level of interaction with visitors as part of staff duties which is unavoidable and unable to be mitigated by PPE or other equipment," a DOC spokesperson said.
“The nature of these roles mean that should a staff member become infected with Covid-19 there is also a high risk they may then spread the virus to other people they come into contact within the course of their duties”.
Sudima Hotels chief operating officer Les Morgan says hotel staff are higher risk because of their contact with guests and going into guest's rooms. He says making vaccination mandatory for new staff is the right thing to do.
“If New Zealand as a destination wants to ensure that it's attractive then we should be making all effort in the tourism industry to mitigate all risks."
Nelson employment lawyer Nick Mason says work needs to be done to make it clearer for businesses. “The threshold where deciding when work has to be done by a vaccinated person, that's the principal area of confusion because it's not at all clear."
He says bullet points from the Government of which roles are considered high risk would be helpful.
If an employee declines to be vaccinated for high-risk roles, workplaces should look at alternative positions, though that’s not always possible.
“There are going to be a lot of people whose jobs have to be done by vaccinated people and if they choose not to there's simply no job for them,” Mason said.
Mason says in the case of new employees it is easier to mandate vaccination, but employers still need to work through whether the role is high risk or not.
Are you an employer or employee with a new vaccination policy in your workplace? Send your news tips to Jessica.Roden@tvnz.co.nz