COVID-19 Response Legislation FAQs

Practical tips for understanding the law and how it is being applied

Employment FAQS


Q.1. My employer informed me / has written to me that I need to get the Jab to keep my Job?


Introduction

So your employer has advised you that it requires you to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The "requirement" to be vaccinated can come from a number of ways:

  1. An employer has requested or strongly encouraged its staff is be vaccinated against Covid-19 (Injection Request);
  2. As mandated in a government order or statute – in accordance with Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 (Injection Order).
  3. Be specified in your employment contract.


(Each is under its own heading below.)

Whatever the grounds for your employer wanting you to be jabbed, your employer is obliged to undertake a health and safety risk assessment and health and safety audit (Health and Safety Obligations) when considering whether your role is one that needs to be jabbed to keep your Job. Your employer is obliged to give you that information if you ask for it.

You are required to engage with your employer – so do not ignore the request. Consider how you would like to respond.

1. Injection Request - Employer asks you to get vaccinated not mandated

First, wait for your employer to contact you with their Injection Request. If they do so verbally, then request what they do so in writing.

Once you have a letter or email that includes an Injection Request (ie there is no government mandate that your role be vaccinated), then we have a number of letters that you can consider sending in reply. There are three types of letters available for you to consider https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Letter to Employer Vaccine Requested but not mandated

  1. Long Version sets out a position including reports on the risk of Covid and the vaccine and requests the risk assessment your employer is obliged to undertake with respect to assessing Covid as a risk
  2. Short Version does not provide a detailed response on the risks of Covid and the vaccine, it just requests from your employer the risk assessment and any other relevant information completed by them in assessing Covid as a risk and controls
  3. Seeking Medical Advice this letter acknowledges your employer's request and simply responds by letting them know you are getting advice from you medical practitioner. This letter is a 'holding letter'. You will still need to engage with your employer and you can consider whether the Long Version or Short Version letter is appropriate.

When your employer responds to your letter providing the information or not, you need to consider your next step, which may be a further letter or a personal grievance.

2. Injection Mandate - Employer refers to a government order that you be vaccinated, or there is a term in your employment agreement that you be vaccinated

First, wait for your employer to contact you with their Injection Order. If they do so verbally, then request what they do so in writing.

Once you have a letter or email that includes an Injection Order (ie there is a government mandate), then we have a number of letters that you can consider sending in reply. There are three types of letters available for you to consider https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Letter to Employer where vaccine has been mandated

  1. Long Version sets out a position including reports on the risk of Covid and the vaccine and requests the risk assessment your employer is obliged to undertake with respect to assessing Covid as a risk
  2. Short Version does not provide a detailed response on the risks of Covid and the vaccine, it just requests from your employer the risk assessment and any other relevant information completed by them in assessing Covid as a risk and controls
  3.  Seeking Medical Advice this letter acknowledges your employer's request and simply responds by letting them know you are getting advice from your medical practitioner. This letter is a 'holding letter'. You will still need to engage with your employer and you can consider whether the Long Version or Short Version letter is appropriate.

When your employer responds to your letter providing the information or not, you need to consider your next step, which may be a further letter or a personal grievance.

3. Covid 19 vaccine or flu vaccine specified in your employment agreement

If you have an express provision in your employment agreement specifying that you are required to be vaccinated with the Covid 19 vaccine or annual flu vaccine, then this is a term of your employment that you have conceded to. If you now no longer wish to be bound to this provision, then you should appropriate advice specific to your circumstances.


Q.1.2 Who needs to be Jabbed to have their Job?


The NZ government website regarding employment also sets out clearly the position on vaccines in the workplace. Importantly:

  1. Covid-19 vaccination will not be needed by most workers
  2. Employment continues to apply if work cannot be done by unvaccinated employees
  3. A person's vaccination status is personal information
  4. Amending existing employment agreements to include vaccination as a term of employment is only reasonable where the role requires it (health and safety reasons).
  5. Unless vaccination is needed for health and safety reasons, work is unlikely to be unsafe solely because it is done around unvaccinated workers.

https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/other-types-of-leave/coronavirus-workplace/covid-19-vaccination-and-employment/#scrollto-sharing-vaccine-misinformation


Q.2. What are the obligations in an employment relationship?


You and your employer are in a relationship of good faith or trust and confidence.

That means:

  1. you must communicate with each other honestly and in a clear and respectful manner.
  2. where you may lose your job, your employer must give you sufficient information to be able to understand the proposal and then give you a proper opportunity to respond and comment.


Therefore, if your employer requests you be Jabbed to keep your job, then you are required to engage with your employer in a clear and communicative way. See some suggested letters under Q.1.


Q.3. I have not been able to work things out with my employer and I am facing losing my job what are my options?


If you have not been able to resolve matters with your employer and you are facing losing your job because you have not got the Jab you can raise a personal grievance with your employer. An outline of a personal grievance is available at https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Personal Grievance 

You have 90 days from the disadvantage/grievance arising to let your employer know about your grievance. You then have 3 years to file a personal grievance with the Employment Relations Authority.

After submitting your personal grievance to your employer, you can ask the Employment Relations Service for a mediation. To do that you need to submit complete:

  1. an application to the Employment Relations Authority available at https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Personal Grievance – Application to Employment Authority
  2. the mediation form for the Employment Relations Service 'https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Personal Grievance – Pre-Mediation Form

You may not have to pay a filing fee for your Application to the Employment Relations Authority if you have requested mediation from the Employment Relations Service. When filing all of your documents phone both the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Relations Service to confirm you are filing the complete and correct documents.

If you cannot return to work until the grievance is resolved, then you could apply for leave until the mediation – this will have to be annual leave, or sick leave unless you have special leave available to you in your employment agreement. If you do not have any leave accrued then this may have to be leave without pay.

See also the steps for engaging with your employer are clearly articulated on https://www.employment.govt.nz/resolving-problems/steps-to-resolve/


Q.4. I've been sent a survey at work to fill out as to vaccination status and/or intentions to get vaccinated etc. Should I fill it out? 


Unless your vaccination status is relevant to your employment, then that is personal information and does not need to be shared with your employer. If you do not consider that it is relevant to your employment then you should consider requesting your employer to substantiate why they say it is. You can do this using a letter similar to Seeking Medical Advice (see response to Q.1).

Note, your vaccination status may be relevant if there is a reference in your employment agreement that you are up to date with your applicable vaccinations.

 

Q.5. I have been or am being bullied at work over my vax status. What can I do? 


Your vaccination status is private, personal medical information. If your employer holds that personal information then that should not be shared by your employer with anyone else.

If you are receiving threats, being bullied, or feel coerced, we have a template letter to your employer which may help, 'https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Notice Letter to Employer Bullying and Coercion

Q.6. My boss has communicated with me (by text or email or letter) that I am expected to get vaccinated. What should I do?  


See our answer at Q.1. and what your obligations are at Q.2. You may also want to query why your boss thinks you need to be vaccinated so see the answers in Q.4.

 

Q.7. My manager or boss has invited me to a meeting to discuss vaccination. Should I go? 


As the employment relationship is one of trust and confidence, you are required to engage with your employer. See your respective obligations at Q.2.

If a meeting has been requested to discuss vaccination, and you do decide to attend, then you should consider going with a support person.

You should also ask your employer if you can record the meeting – this often has the effect of keeping the meeting professional.

Have a look at the letters in Q.1 which may assist you to discuss Covid and the vaccination with your employer.

It will be a good opportunity to remind your employer of their obligation to conduct a full risk assessment where health and safety is concerned.

 

Q.8. I have received a formal notification that my position is covered by government mandate and I am on notice to get the jab. What should I do? 


See the response to Q.1.

You should review and consider whether the letters to referred to in the answer to Q.1 consider https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Letter to Employer where vaccine has been mandated are appropriate for you

 

Q.9 I have received notification that I am required to be jabbed. What do I do? 


Your employer is obliged to look after your health and safety and to have conducted a full risk assessment and audit of Covid 19 and the vaccination.

If you have concerns about getting the Jab, then see the response to Q.1 above.

The letters that might be helpful to your situation are https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Letter to Employer Vaccine Requested but not mandated

 

Q.10. Can you help me lodge a personal grievance? 


See the response to Q.3.

 

Q.11 Can I record a meeting with my boss or manager?  


You can record a meeting with your boss or manager.

As the employment relationship is one of good faith it is best practice to seek permission from all participants to record the meeting. Also, meetings tend to go much better if everyone knows that it is being recorded.

It might be a breach of your obligation of good faith if you secretly recorded a conversation with your boss or manager.

However, there is nothing stopping you from making a secret recording. But the recording may not be able to be relied upon in court.

The recording can be useful to take written notes following the meeting. It is much easier to use notes in any court hearing than to use a secret recording.

Note: if you are not participating in a conversation and you are recording it without the participants' permission then this is illegal and attaches with it a criminal charge under the Crimes Act.

 

Q.12 I have been told there is an idea by management that my whole workplace or some (yet to be specified) roles in my workplace will all need to be vaccinated. We have been given the chance to have our say on the concept/draft policy. What should I do?


See the response to Q.1, Q.2. and Q.7.

 

Q.13 I have been told that I need to get a PCR test before coming back to work as our work was a place of interest?  


There are acceptable alternatives to getting a PCR test.

Have a look at the template letter to employers where you are refusing a PCR test, https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/resources Employment Resources / Template Letter – PCR Letter to Employer

 

Q.14. I have been told I need to get a test every week? 


There are acceptable alternatives to getting a PCR test.

See response under Q.13 which includes a template letter you can adapt to your situation.

 

Q.15. I have been told I need to have a test when crossing over the Auckland border [mandated]?


There are acceptable alternatives to getting a PCR test including obtaining a medical certificate.

You do not have to prove you are negative with Covid in order to cross a boundary, only that you have had a PCR test in the last 72 hours or a medical certificate.

Have a look at the template letter to the officer responsible for the alert level boundaries, P.2

 

Q.16. none of the above answers your query?


We recommend you seek individual legal advice.

You may wish to request a referral to one of our recommended employment experts. If so please complete the form here.


Q.17 My employer is trying to get me to resign my employment agreement specifying that I be vaxxed?


Your employer cannot unilaterally change the terms of your employment without your express consent.

If your current employment agreement does not require you to be vaccinated to do your job, then your employer will need to provide you with a clear explanation as to why it does now.

Have a look at the answer to Q.1. section1 – Request.


Q.18 I am an employer. Some of my staff have to visit client sites. Those client sites are asking for my staff's vaccination status and threatening that they cannot attend on-site. What can I do?


As an employer, you have very clear health and safety obligations under the Health and Safety Work Act 2015.

Those obligations require you to undertake due diligence by identifying all hazards and provide appropriate controls to manage that risk.

As each business is different, there is no one policy that fits all situations. However, as an employer you have no doubt conducted health and safety audits before. One relating to the risk of Covid will be no different.

Worksafe provides some useful guides to assist employers to identify risks: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/assets/dmsassets/zero/842WKS-6-HSWA-how-to-manage-work-risks.pdf

Worksafe also provide a useful guide to assess and manage any risks: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/assets/dmsassets/zero/839WKS-5-HSWA-identifying-assessing-managing-work-risks.pdf

With respect to Covid 19, things to consider may be:

  1. Identify the potential risk. The potential risk is Covid - is Covid dangerous? Consider the information contained in letter R1 for identifying the science behind the dangers of Covid. Be scientific, not political. You are assessing the actual risk in your workplace.
  2. If there are multiple workplaces the risks may be different.
  3. When does the risk arise? When someone has Covid. In response to that risk, you could have a policy when anyone shows symptoms, should not come to work and see their Dr. They should also stay home until they are well.
  4. If Covid is a risk in your business what steps can be taken to minimise? Sanitizing, social distancing, no handshakes, have staff work in different areas, symptom policy. Does vaccination fit in the minimising the risks for your business?

If your clients are requiring to know the vaccination status of your employees then you would outline to your clients your risk analysis and assessment and whether mandated vaccination is a feature.

Gathering and other FAQS

Gathering and other FAQS

 
Q.1. How to have a peaceful protest but not a gathering?


At current Alert Level 3, it is not a gathering where people remain at least 2 metres away from each other!

So in order to take yourself outside of the definition you must remain at least 2 metres from each other all of the time – that means no close contact catch ups or group photos at the end.

To best organise a 'non-gathering':

  1. Place placards or signs 5m from one another
  2. Have people collect and hold up placards or signs while maintaining over 2m distance
  3. Do not at any time congregate in a group or within 2m of one another for example to take a photo at the end – these are the only photos that make the news and will put you in jeopardy of having breached the current Order or facing a fine of $400 or $1000.


Q.2 Someone has turned up at my property offering to vaccinate me, what can I do?


Whether you rent or own, if someone turns up at your property advising that they are authorised by the Ministry of Health to vaccinate you, you have a number of options if you do not want to receive the vaccine.

1. You should ask them for their:

  • Name;
  • contact details of who they work for;
  • evidence of their authority to be offering the vaccination;
  • the order, if any, empowering them to be there to vaccinate you.


2. You should advise them that you are not able to give informed consent at this time as the vaccination is in its trial phase with medium and long-term consequences being unknown.

3. You can then ask them to leave your property.

4. If after you have asked them to leave, they refuse to leave then they have committed an act of trespass.

5. You can call the police to get them removed from your property.

6. You should follow up any verbal trespass notice with a written trespass notice [this is why you asked for the information under 1(a)(d) above. The police will help you with this if you have called them, alternatively, if you have not, then you can complete a trespass notice yourself and send it to the person who trespassed upon your property. The trespass notice is https://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/publication/trespass-notice-form

7. You can also put up a sign at the entrances to your property that there is to be no unauthorised admittance for health and safety reasons, or you can put up a trespass notice warning.


Your Personal Information - FAQs

My personal information being recorded - FAQs


Q.1. I have been contacted by my doctor's clinic about getting the jab, what are they wanting and what are my options?


The government is collecting data to compile a Covid Immunisation Register (CIR).

To compile and complete the CIR, your doctor's clinic or other health professional may be reaching out to complete your details and confirm your vaccination status and/or preference.

That register records the following details:

  • your name, date of birth, gender, and health number (National Health Index or NHI)
  • your address and contact details
  • details about the vaccination/s you receive
  • any reactions you have to the vaccine
  • confirmation of priority category for vaccination eg. phase 1a.


The CIR will also record if you decide not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, including if there are medical reasons why you don’t, or if you do not want to be contacted further by the vaccination programme.


What are my options if I am contacted?

The information that is recorded on the CIR has to be accurate. Therefore if you are contacted you should consider what you are prepared to have recorded on the register. They are not able to record anything on the register that you do not agree with.

You have many options in responding to the call:

  1. "I request that all my information be removed from the register".
    You are entitled to ask for your information to be removed from the register, in the same way that you can be removed from the cervical screening register and vaccination register.
  2. "Thank you for your call, I do not wish to discuss the matter."
    This leaves them with nothing to put on records other than did not wish to discuss. Note, they may continue to keep calling you.
  3. "I am not going to get it"
    Be aware they may try and record that on the register. You should let them know if you are prepared for that position to be recorded or not.
  4. You can ignore the calls.

Can I see what they have recorded on the register against my name?

You are entitled to see the information held on the CIR that relates to you. You are also entitled to correct it.

https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccine-and-your-privacy/covid-immunisation-register-cir-privacy-statement#record


Q.2. I am an employer, do I need to keep a register of those that have been vaccinated?


You are only entitled to hold personal information about a staff member if that information is relevant to their role.

In the majority of cases, it will not be and you will not even be entitled to make enquiries of an employee's medical status.

If an employee's medical status is relevant to their employment with you, or you are directed to by law, then this is private personal information – you are obliged to protect the privacy of personal information and not disclose or use it for any other purpose.