There have been recent changes to employment law regarding vaccinations.

Introduction of the Traffic Light System:

To accommodate the ‘traffic light’ system, the Minister for Covid-19 Response has discretion to make orders specifying the type of work which must only be carried out by vaccinated workers.  The orders can also impose record-keeping obligations, and any other necessary measures.

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), and affected workers, will have certain duties under this legislation regarding the disclosing and maintaining of vaccination records, and preventing unvaccinated workers from carrying out work that can only be performed by vaccinated workers.

Around mid-December, there will be an assessment tool available to PCBUs to use to determine whether the work they carry out will require vaccination or testing.

PCBUs will also need to bear in mind the privacy laws around the use of contact-tracing and vaccination status information.  

Time off work to get vaccinated:

Additional changes include workers being entitled to reasonable paid time off to get vaccinated. 

Terminating employees for failure to comply:

There is also a new process in place to terminate employment where there is a failure to comply with any vaccination, testing, or other obligation.  Reasonable notice must be given to the employee of the date by which they are required to be vaccinated.  

If an employment agreement is terminated, the employee is entitled to receive four weeks’ notice (unless there is a longer notice period in their agreement).  However, reasonable alternatives (like working from home) must be pursued before resorting to termination.

Employees are still entitled to bring a personal grievance regarding the termination of their employment.  It is therefore vital that employers understand the law, and especially the fair process requirements, before taking any action against an employee. 

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