No jab, no job – legal rights in the workplace

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Covid-19 and its highly contagious delta variant are coming to a workplace near you and it is important that all financial services players know what they can and cannot do in the interests of workplace safety. .

Thursday, November 4, 2021, 6:54 a.m.

by Matthieu Martin

Professor Rod Jackson.

Yesterday, those who attended a Financial Advice New Zealand “Bring in the Experts” webinar were treated to the usual Covid-inspired misinformation by some members. all employers and employees – the “no jab, no job” question.

Financial Advice NZ chief executive Katrina Shanks admitted she was nervous about hosting the webinar, but said everyone is entitled to an opinion on an issue important to the industry.

Emma Peterson, partner of Russell McVeigh and expert in employment, health and safety, presented a legal position on the subject, while on the medical side, the professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Rod Jackson School of Population Health.

Russell McVeigh has decided not to allow staff or visitors into their buildings unless they have had both vaccines for health and safety reasons.

“As an employer, you’ll want to know if your employees are vaccinated,” says Peterson.

“You can ask, but they don’t have to tell you … but then you can assume that they are not vaccinated.”

Peterson says employers should look at roles within an organization and perform a risk assessment of staff who might not be able to get vaccinated under health and safety rules.

This includes the roles of employees, are they able to work from home, how often do they interact with their coworkers, the public and customers, and the risks associated with those interactions.

Under the health and safety provisions, companies can introduce vaccine passports as a condition of entry, but it is also useful to consider other solutions such as working from home or changing roles.

Peterson says that under the New Zealand Bill of Rights, employers cannot require staff to receive medical treatment, but companies may consider that certain roles can only be performed by vaccinated staff, or require that everyone entering a business be vaccinated.

She says there is no case law yet testing vaccine mandates in the workplace and the key for employers is the assessment of health and safety risks followed by WorkSafe guidelines, which should be published soon.

Peterson says many more workplaces will introduce vaccine passports, and dealing with unvaccinated staff will involve trade-offs.

This may include redeployment, working from home, or a new role, but all options should be exhausted before termination of employment.

Professor Jackson told viewers that the Delta variant is a game-changer for New Zealand because it is an extremely contagious variant and Covid-19 is the worst public health problem since World War II.

“Eventually everyone in New Zealand will either be immune to the vaccine or to the virus – and I can tell you that you don’t want to be immune to the virus. “

He says he is a supporter of “no jab – no work” and virus containment measures, saying New Zealand must do everything to get the kiwis vaccinated.

Professor Jackson spent some time debunking Covid-19 and vaccine myths put forward by some viewers and said that for the next several years the country will see restrictions and restrictions at a lower level based on the proportion of vaccinated people.

“A fully vaccinated office is a great protection against infection and you probably won’t have to shut down – the more unvaccinated people in your office, the more they will spread.”

Tags: Covid-19 Financial Advice New Zealand Katrina Shanks Wellness Webinars

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