Today (26 October 2021), the Government announced further vaccination mandate. The mandate covers workers working at any businesses where vaccine passports are required for patrons. This will include hospitality businesses, hairdressers and gyms.
Here is a summary of what has been announced:
- Timing – the timing of these changes remains unclear. However, the indication is that it will depend on what “traffic light” level we are at.
- Exemptions – those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons will likely be exempt from the new mandates
- Notice periods – employers will be required to give their employees a minimum of 4 weeks’ notice of the requirement to get vaccinated or face losing their role. This will kick in from the date an employer decides a particular role is required to be performed by a vaccinated employee (ie. after a risk assessment has been completed and redeployment options have been explored). This does not override the notice requirements in an employment agreement but applies when there is no notice period or the notice period is shorter that 4 weeks.
- Paid time off – employers will be required to give workers paid time off to enable them to get vaccinated during work hours.
- Risk assessments – for those employers not covered by the mandates, the Government aims to make it simpler and clearer for employers to determine when they can require vaccination as a condition of employment. This includes by enacting a risk assessment framework as secondary legislation.
With these changes imminent, 40% of our workforce will be covered by vaccination mandates. Will this open the floodgates to employment law claims? Minister Wood has indicated these changes will not take away employment rights but rather provide a simplified framework to clear up confusion and reduce the risk of litigation (particularly litigation for the purpose of testing rights).
We are here to assist with preparing your organisation for these changes. Get in touch for advice on your rights and obligations.