COVID-19 Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a vital tool in the Covid-19 toolbox.

They are the main way we can all contribute to keeping ourselves, our whānau and our communities safe from Covid-19.

We encourage all working people to receive a Covid-19 vaccination if they can. The public health advice is that vaccines significantly reduce the infection rate, the impacts of the illness and save lives. Vaccinations are a collective action; they work best when we all get them.

If you are not sure about whether you should get the Covid-19 vaccination, we advise you to check the evidence and what the experts say. Having a chat with your health practitioner is a good place to start. We can send you some links to trusted information.

Health and safety

It is vital that union members are involved in all health and safety planning. Your employer must have health and safety policies in the workplace that are in line with public health advice. This includes the use of masks/face-coverings, infection prevention and control measures and physical distancing, and other personal protective equipment based on risk. 

Employers must work with the union, delegates, and health and safety representatives to develop and consult on a risk assessment based on roles, not individuals.

We encourage union members to discuss their ideas and issues for health and safety at work with their health and safety reps and delegates.

Employer mandated vaccine policy and unvaccinated members 

We will support you to make sure your employer follows a fair process.

Employers need to make sure workers have access to detailed and expert information to enable an informed choice about the vaccine.

Where employers are considering mandating vaccines in the workplace, they must undertake a robust role-based risk assessment process that includes engagement with unions and workers.  Please contact the PSA if this is occurring in your workplace.

Where employers decide to mandate the vaccine, they must also consult on employment policies and have these in place to work with any worker who remains unvaccinated. Workers need to be informed of any possible employment outcomes due to mandating the vaccination in the workplace and employers need to discuss and consult with workers and their unions about this.

Government mandated vaccines and unvaccinated members

Your employer should follow a fair process in this situation.

This will include making sure employers provide detailed and expert information about vaccination, and that members are well informed of the possible employment outcomes.

Where possible employers should work with workers and unions to explore alternative work patterns and redeployment opportunities.

If you remain unvaccinated, and other options are not safe or available, your employment may be terminated.


Health & Disability Worker Vaccinations Order

FAQ for Workers Covered by Vaccination Order

Public health vaccination orders have two dates:

  1. Date by which dose one is due
  2. Date by which dose two is due

Workers covered by the order are unable to remain in the workplace if they have not had their first dose of the vaccine by the given date.

Check the order for your workforce/workplace to find out the date.

We urge you to get vaccinated by the dates in the vaccination order.

Your employer may give you paid time off work to receive the vaccine.  

 Your employer will ask your vaccination status if you work in a role covered by a vaccination order.

The order requires employees within coverage to provide their employer with accurate information about their vaccination status, including the name of the vaccine received and the date the vaccine was received. 

 

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has an excellent safety profile and the advice provided by the Immunisation Advisory Centre is that only a handful of eligible people (fewer than 100) in Aotearoa who cannot receive it at all. The Immunisation Advisory Centre has further information about who cannot receive the Pfizer vaccine, which can be found here.

The Order outlines the process a person must go through to receive a medical exemption. A suitably qualified medical or nurse practitioner may apply to the Director-General of Health for a medical exemption on behalf of any person, if the practitioner believes that they meet the specified Covid-19 vaccination exemption criteria.

The Covid-19 vaccination exemption criteria issued by the Ministry of Health will be known to your GP, however the criteria can be found here. If you wish to seek a medical exemption:

  • You will need to see a medical or nurse practitioner (such as your GP)
  • They must review your medical history and assess the state of your health
  • If they believe there are reasonable grounds to consider that you meet the specified Covid-19 vaccination exemption criteria, they may make an application to the Director-General of Health on your behalf
  • The Director-General of Health may require further information before being able to make a decision. Any medical exemption granted will be time-bound, and cannot be any longer than 6 months.

If the Director-General of Health approves a medical exemption, your employer will then need to conduct a risk assessment with you to determine whether appropriate risk mitigation controls can be put into place to enable the role to be undertaken safely or consider other alternatives if this cannot be agreed.

It will depend on what the public health order or mandatory vaccination policy says.

You may be able to continue your role, or there may be other options open to you, following a risk assessment, such as use of PPE, working from home and redeployment opportunities.  You should discuss with your employer.

Please contact the PSA for specific information.

The Astra Zeneca vaccine has received provisional approval from MedSafe, however the Government has not made a decision regarding the availability of this vaccine commercially in New Zealand. As such, it is not currently an option to receive the vaccine prior to the vaccination order coming into force. If you are wanting this vaccine should speak with your employer as soon as possible about what options might be available.

It is your right to refuse to be vaccinated.

However, this choice will impact your employment.

You will not be able to continue to work and if you cannot be redeployed your employer may terminate your employment.

A fair process should be followed. If no alternative work is available it may be fair and reasonable for an employer to give notice and dismiss an unvaccinated worker. 

You should receive notice of termination (or payment in lieu of notice) and any outstanding holiday pay entitlements.

If your role is covered by a public health vaccination order, you will be prohibited by law from continuing to work in your role, and your clients will not have this choice.

The PSA will work with members to ensure that your employer follows a fair process. This could include exploring options for redeployment opportunities if you are unable to remain in your current role due to not being vaccinated and ensuring that all legal requirements are met if you receive notice of termination from your employer.

If you later meet the requirements of a public health vaccination order or employer vaccine mandate and you want to return to work you can contact your employer and apply for available roles.