Mandatory Vaccination – A case update


On 1 September 2021, GF v New Zealand Customs Service – the first decision addressing a situation where an employee was terminated due to not being vaccinated – was issued.

The result – the employee was not unjustifiably dismissed or disadvantaged by New Zealand Customs Service (the employer) after being terminated for not being vaccinated.

Does this mean employers can dismiss unvaccinated workers?

No, this decision does not mean all employers will be entitled to take this stance.  But it does provide some useful insights into how an employer might respond to this situation.  There are specific circumstances in this case that need to be taken into consideration being:

We look at the decision in more detail below.


The facts

The decision

Customs actions were what a fair and reasonable employer could do in all the circumstances.  The Authority considered that Customs being a Government department with ample access to legal advice needed to be held to a high standard and went on to determine that:

Good faith

The Authority found that Customs, other than being slow to respond to correspondence, did not breach their obligations of good faith.  One point reinforced by the Authority is that good faith ‘runs both ways’.  This is often a point forgotten.  Based on the mutual obligation of good faith, it would have been prudent for GF to provide reasons for her objection to being vaccinated.

We understand that this matter is likely to be challenged in the Employment Court.  So, like all things COVID-19 related when it comes to employment law we are once again saying… watch this space.

Disclaimer:  This information is intended as general legal information and does not constitute legal advice.  If you have a specific issue and wish to discuss it get in contact with the Black Door Law team.