Frequently Asked Questions

What risk assessment process and framework should agencies use?

The Commission's guidance includes a four-step  health and safety risk assessment process including an example risk assessment tool. Please note that MBIE and Worksafe have updated their guidance following the changes to the My Vaccine Pass and vaccination requirements effective 4 April 2022, and their vaccination assessment tool (VAT) is being withdrawn

Can agencies put in place additional measures to those required under the protection framework?

Yes, if an agency identifies through a health and safety risk assessment process that other measures are required to mitigate risks, has taken H&S and legal advice to ensure they are proportionate, appropriate and do not infringe upon a person’s rights, and has engaged with employees and their representatives in good faith prior to the introduction of such measures

Does an employee have to tell the employer their vaccination status?

An employee does not have to provide vaccination status information. However, agencies should ensure employees are aware of any consequences of not providing the information, according to the current vaccination policy.

Is working permanently at home an alternative for unvaccinated employees whose workplace requires employees to be fully vaccinated?

The employer may consider an employee working from home to allow sufficient time to explore reasonable options and mitigate the health and safety risk to other people. In determining whether permanently working from home is a suitable option, employers will need to take into consideration whether the employee can carry out the full duties and responsibilities of their role and to the same level as they would in their normal place of work on an ongoing basis.

If an employee is not fully vaccinated can their employment be terminated?

This will depend on the agency’s vaccination policy. Termination should only occur once all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.

If there are no suitable working alternatives for an employee who is not vaccinated and whose role includes work that can only be done safely by a vaccinated employee, are they eligible for a redundancy payment?

Termination of employment should only occur once all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted. If at the conclusion of a good faith discussion with an employee, an employer determines that there is no alternative to terminating employment of an employee who is not vaccinated, the agency should ensure the employee receives four weeks’ (or the notice period in their employment agreement if more than four weeks) paid notice of termination.

Do we need to re-hire staff who were dismissed following the implementation of a vaccination mandate or policy?

No, you do not have to re-hire or offer positions to those who have been dismissed. Re-employment should only occur when a vacancy occurs, and has been advertised following the requirements of the Public Service Act 2020, if applicable. If the mandate has been withdrawn, and the agency’s vaccination policy does not require vaccination for the role, then the application should be considered with any other applications.

Can an agency employ overseas workers under the COVID-19 Protection Framework?

Yes. More information on the criteria for overseas people needing a My Vaccine Pass can be found here

We have received an application from a staff member who wishes to move overseas and continue to work remotely. How do we treat their request?

Agencies are advised to treat such applications as they would any other work from home request, noting some roles are unable to be performed outside of the office. Also, the agency may wish to consider any tax implications or IT security implications of their employee remote working overseas and are advised to seek their own legal advice on this matter. In this situation, the cost of attending required on site meetings etc should sit with the employee.

How do we treat staff who have contracted COVID-19 and are away from home on business?

Different Phases of the CPF carry different risk profiles. For example, at Green Phase travel is expected to be unrestricted, but at Red travel for business should be kept to a minimum and for essential site visits only, with virtual meetings being preferred. If the travel is undertaken, then good infection mitigation measures should be maintained. Where an employee is undertaking approved travel, agencies should ensure that the employee is supported (including with reasonable costs), if they are required to self-isolate and cannot return to their home. The further advice is available here.

If an employee travels overseas on a private trip and is required to isolate on return and cannot work remotely while isolating, are they entitled to special paid leave while isolating?

It is recommended that employees discuss with their employer any plans to travel overseas on a private trip, and agencies communicate their expectations if the employee is required on health advice to self-isolate away from their residence.

In the event that an employee is required to isolate, then the usual guidance applies –the employee should work from the place of isolation if possible.

If an employee could undertake work remotely but has not taken reasonable steps to be able to work in their place of isolation (such as not taking laptop and/or phone with them), then an employer can determine that they are not entitled to special leave.

If remote working is not possible, they would not be entitled to special paid leave in the event of isolation and that should be communicated to the employee prior to their travel.

It is recommended that employees discuss with their employer any plans to travel overseas on a private trip, and whether remote working would be possible in the event of isolation.

How do we treat staff who have contracted COVID-19 but have run out of sick pay?

Agencies are advised to follow their existing sick and dependant leave policies, or, in the absence of a policy position on exhausting sick or dependant leave, to treat such leave as discretionary sick leave. We recommend that agencies establish an agency wide policy, rather than leave it to manager discretion, and that agencies look to take a generous approach to their existing guidance. Please note this is an emerging situation and updated advice may be offered.

What happens if a worker tests positive for COVID-19? Do I need to contact trace?

Guidance for workplaces that have a case of COVID-19 can be found here. The country has now moved away from a central model of contact tracing, and moved to one where individual are responsible for identifying and getting in touch with their contacts. Agencies may choose to undertake contact tracing of potential close contacts in the workplace, if they consider it is useful, for example, to maintain business continuity. However, this is not a requirement, and does not need to be reported to health officials. Ministry of Health will shortly be updating Guidance for workplaces to reflect this.

My employee refuses to come into the office, what do I do

It depends on the individual circumstances of the agency, the employee and their substantive role, and what mitigations could be reasonably considered. Please refer to PSC’s workforce guidance, in the Vaccination Guidance section here

How do I manage Long covid in my employees

Most people who contract COVID-19 recover completely. However, there are some who may have symptoms that continue or develop 4 weeks following the initial infection. This is known as ‘Long COVID’.

It is recommended that agencies treat cases of Long COVID amongst their employees in the same way they would respond to any employee with a long-term illness, in accordance with their employment agreement.

Can I record my employees’ vaccination status?

In some circumstances, such as when a vaccination requirement is in place, yes. Please refer to PSC’s workforce guidance, in the Appendix One, Stage Four here

What are the requirements for holding events and gatherings under the new traffic light system?

Information on events and gatherings can be found here, under the Traffic Lights tab.

Workplaces are not gatherings or events.

What do I do if one of my employees presents a face mask exemption card, but there are mask requirements in place?

Holding a valid mask exemption card means a person who is unable to wear a mask can still work within settings that require masks. However, organisations are legally required to mitigate, as far as is reasonably practicable, the risks of spreading COVID-19 that arise if workers are unable to wear a face covering or a medical-grade face covering in these circumstances. Agencies and their employees are recommended to work together in good faith to find an appropriate solution, which may mean changes to shifts, duties, and operations generally within reason. Further information on face masks can be found here, and existing reasons for mask exemptions here

Should I record that my employee has a mask exemption card?

If the employee is exempt, they may choose to voluntarily disclose their status to avoid confusion, and if agencies choose to collect, process and store that status then it must be done in a manner that is in accordance with privacy principles. Agencies should be mindful of people’s privacy and of the fact that people may have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a mask, which may not be obvious or immediately visible.

Where can I find information from trusted sources on COVID-19 and workplace safety?

The Ministry of Health and Government Health and Safety Lead’s website provide useful information for staff.

What websites should we be monitoring and using when making informed decisions?

The following links cover a range of important information for agencies:

Last modified: