The Spreading Mandate of Bans for the Unvaccinated.


The Spreading Mandate of Bans for the Unvaccinated.

While New Zealand is in the throes of mass vaccination pushes, some organisations are choosing to take the next step in requiring anyone entering their premises to be fully vaccinated. This is a controversial move, given that, at this stage, most workplaces will not need vaccinated workers and cannot directly or indirectly discriminate against workers on the basis of their vaccination status. They can, however, require that certain work only be done by vaccinated workers, where there is a high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others.

Looking at this from another perspective, there are positives to operating within a fully vaccinated environment, such as allowing organisations to lift restrictions such as the use of face masks and the need to maintain physical distancing. This all helps in the move towards returning to more normal workplace conditions.

The recent announcement by PwC and Russell McVeagh was a surprise to many; their decisions not only cover employees but also contractors and clients – in other words, anyone entering their premises:


‘PwC has become the second major New Zealand company in as many days to require anyone using its offices to be fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, Russell McVeagh’s chief executive, Jo Avenell, said it would not allow anyone who had not had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to enter its offices.

On Friday, PwC New Zealand chief executive Mark Averill said it, too, would require all staff and contractors who wanted to work from a PwC office or client site to be full vaccinated. The rule would also apply to visitors. The policy takes effect December 1.

“Our responsibility is to keep all of our people safe. Introducing this policy will enable our people who wish to work from our offices to feel safe coming back into the workplace as government alert levels permit,” he said.

“Anyone who isn’t able to work at a PwC office or client site under this policy can work remotely. We have flexibility principles, and the technology, in place to allow our people to choose where, how, and when they work.”

He said the policy had been communicated to staff this week.

“We have strongly encouraged everyone at PwC to be vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. We have supported this by offering a half day’s paid leave for each vaccination. We are also offering onsite vaccinations in our offices outside of Auckland and Waikato,” he said.

“A number of our people are actively engaged in efforts to lift vaccination rates across the country, particularly for our more vulnerable communities. What’s clear is that vaccinations will be how we move safely into an environment with less restrictions for businesses, our communities and each of us personally.”

The Government has announced vaccine mandates for healthcare workers and teachers but has so far held back from giving clear guidance on how the private sector should approach the issue.

A survey by Simpson Grierson showed 69 per cent of business respondents wanted Covid-19 vaccination to be mandatory for current and future employees. Almost three-quarters said a person’s vaccination status would affect their hiring choice. Only 9 per cent were not concerned about whether a candidate for a job had been vaccinated.

Simpson Grierson employment partner, John Rooney said: “It is a challenging time for New Zealand employers who are eager to have their staff fully vaccinated against Covid-19, but without Government legislation on the matter, may face possible legal challenges from employees.

“This week’s Government announcement mandating vaccination for employees in the health and education sector, indicates that some guidance for employers from the Government may be on the way.”

He said some employers were concerned about losing staff if vaccinations were made compulsory, and were worried about unfairly discriminating against the unvaccinated.

“In the absence of a Government mandate, it is still open to employers to stipulate that certain roles can only be undertaken by employees who are vaccinated. However, it is recommended that any decision to do so follows a risk assessment, consultation with employees and any relevant unions, and considers alternatives to dismissal in relation to employees who decline vaccination.” ‘

While private businesses are able to decide who enters their promises, clear advice from the Government would assist whether businesses are actually within their rights to turn away unvaccinated clients without facing potential legal action.

If you have questions regarding your own business or entering other businesses, please contact EQ Consultants and, in this ever-changing landscape, we will endeavour to guide you through this process.

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