Warning over ditching vax mandates

25 Mar 22

This article was published in the Otago Daily Times on 25 March 2022

A Dunedin employment lawyer is warning businesses not to “throw out” their vaccine mandates just because the Government has.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced sweeping changes to New Zealand’s Covid-19 protection framework, including the removal of most vaccine mandates early next month.

Mandates in the health and disability, aged care, corrections and border workforces will remain.

Anderson Lloyd partner John Farrow said the change in rules by the Government did not mean private businesses, which might have introduced their own mandates because of health and safety policies, needed to follow suit.

The report, by epidemiologist Emeritus Prof Sir David Skegg, which the Government made public following its announcement earlier this week, still clearly signalled the science backed vaccinations, Mr Farrow said.

Instead of dropping their mandates, businesses should go back to their policy to see if the announcement changed anything.

Businesses might now be able to protect their workers in other ways such as testing.

“They shouldn’t just throw them out altogether — instead, go back and have a look and change the policy, if it’s needed.”

Organisations or businesses which were about to have their Government mandate lifted could introduce their own vaccination requirement by developing their own health and safety policy, he said.

They would have to prove they had a genuine reason, such as minimising risk to people going on site.

Unvaccinated people who might have been stood down because of mandates, and had not yet been dismissed, should be reintegrated into the workforce, if the employer deemed it safe to do so, Mr Farrow said.

While each case would have to be considered on its own merits, “absolutely, if the business’ policy allows for it, they should be brought back into the workforce”.

Ms Ardern said, on Wednesday, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials were working to update the ministry’s guidance to the private sector.

Link to ODT article here.

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John Farrow