The Employment Court has upheld a challenge to an Employment Relations Authority decision and reinstated an unvaccinated worker.

The worker was dismissed by an airport company as he was unvaccinated. Most airport workers are required to be vaccinated if they enter areas where passengers from overseas also enter.

The worker in this case has a medical condition which made him fearful of the vaccine.  He made proposals for altering his work slightly, so he was not in areas that overseas passengers would be accessing.  The Court held that there was a good argument that the employer had failed to properly consider his proposals before it dismissed him.

He was reinstated on pay for two months, but agreed to use up annual leave for that period.  He is then to be on unpaid leave until the matter is heard in a full hearing by the ERA.  This means he will be an employee and the duties of good faith apply to his relationship with his employer.  As he will be on leave there will be no danger to co-workers or passengers.

The Court found that as he had a reasonable case and there were no safety concerns the balance of convenience favoured his interim reinstatement.

The facts of this case turn mainly on the employer’s alleged failure to properly consider alternatives to dismissal, rather than the vaccine mandate for airport workers.

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