Don’t get stuck at the (COVID-19 Protection Framework) traffic lights

General, Health, Government, Health and Safety, COVID-19 / 24 November 2021
Don’t get stuck at the (COVID-19 Protection Framework) traffic lights

The Government has announced that:

  • New Zealand will move into the new COVID-19 traffic light system on 3 December 2021.  Auckland and low vaccinated areas are likely to start at “Red”, with the rest of New Zealand likely to be at “Orange” (no region will start at Green);
  • It will legislate a risk assessment tool (Tool) to assist employers decide when they can mandate vaccination for employees. The Tool won’t be available until mid-December, at least two weeks after the move to the new traffic light system.

Workers in higher risk settings (hospitality, close-contact businesses, large gatherings and tertiary education at the red level) must be vaccinated. Staff in these sectors will need to have their first dose of an approved vaccine by 3 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 17 January 2022.

Finally, the COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill has been introduced, proposing changes to current law relating to public health responses, employment and health and safety. We will provide a further update when the Bill has been enacted, which we expect to occur this week.

Assessment tool

What we know about the much anticipated Tool so far is that it will provide for the following four factors, and where three out of four apply as high risk, employers can require employee vaccination:

  • Size of the indoor space available for workers;
  • Space between workers and other people;
  • Length of time workers are in contact with other people; and
  • Whether services are provided to people vulnerable to Covid-19?

WorkSafe has confirmed that existing risk assessments won’t be overridden by the new risk assessment tool.

Message for Employers

In preparation for the COVID-19 Protection Framework, employers can and should act now to prepare their workplaces – there is no need to wait until December to complete risk assessments, or to implement a vaccination policy.

Our team offer support with:

  • consulting staff affected by the extended vaccination mandate;
  • advice on your workplace vaccination approach;
  • providing a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and necessary risk assessments; and
  • preparing for upcoming changes to employment and health and safety laws.

We have a current fixed price offer for our COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and necessary risk assessments for roles within the business of $1,000 plus GST.

Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law, health and safety and immigration topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.

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