Over the past 21 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the way organisations operate, including the provision of public services to New Zealanders. New Zealand is now at a critical point in our response and recovery effort as we shift from an elimination strategy to one of minimisation and protection.

New Zealand’s Public Service has a critical role to play in leading the Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery effort. We need to ensure that the Public Service can deliver on that mission, while continuing to serve New Zealand and New Zealanders, providing the services and support they rely on.

This means we need the right policies and settings in place in all Public Service agencies to meet the needs of the New Zealanders we engage with, even in the context of COVID-19 circulating in the community.

In this environment, high vaccination rates are the best way to protect the community from COVID-19 and the Public Service must play its part. Our Workforce Vaccination Guidance published in March 2021 set an expectation that all public servants who can be vaccinated are vaccinated. We now need to set a stronger expectation that reflects the change in our operating context brought about by the shift to a minimisation and protection strategy.

The Government has announced a new COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF) to replace the Alert Level system from 11:59pm on 2 December 2021. The new CPF envisages COVID-19 will be in the community on an ongoing basis.

Complying with all required public health and social measures remains the bottom line for all agencies while continuing to provide public services for all of New Zealand.

Agencies should continue to engage with workers and unions on how they comply with the public health and social measures of the COVID-19 response.

This guidance is issued by the Public Service Commissioner under s95(a) of the Public Service Act 2020 and applies to Public Service agencies[1].  It replaces our COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Guidance and sits alongside the COVID-19 Public Sector Workforce Guidelines for the Alert Levels until the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into effect.

The guidance is based on the current and immediately foreseeable COVID-19 context, it will be reviewed any time changes in the context warrant it.

Overview of the guidance:

The guidance provides for a consistent approach to implementing vaccination mandates, health and safety assessments in accordance with legislation, and evidential requirements and processes for requiring vaccination across Public Service agencies, while supporting the expectation that all public servants who can be vaccinated are vaccinated.

The guidance also provides a basis for requiring visitors, contractors, and other third parties to meet vaccination certification standards to enter Public Service workplaces and supports close engagement with unions and workers in applying the guidance.

This consistency and alignment will support continuity of public services for New Zealanders, both public facing and those that maintain the trust and confidence New Zealanders have in government and the Public Service.

Above all else, the guidance protects the communities that public servants interact with, and the health and safety of public servants themselves, while ensuring New Zealanders can access the services they need, in line with the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

The guidance also supports agencies to normalise the management of leave and pay issues in operating under the CPF.


[1] Public Service agencies are described as: Public Service departments; departmental agencies; New Zealand Police; the New Zealand Defence Force; the Parliamentary Counsel Office; Crown agent Crown entities; Autonomous and Independent Crown entities; organisations listed in Schedule 4, and companies listed in Schedule 4A, of the Public Finance Act 1989; and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

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