Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a worker tests positive for COVID-19?

Guidance for workplaces that have a case of COVID-19 can be found here.

What risk assessment process and framework should agencies use?

Agencies can use a health and safety risk assessment process or the vaccination assessment tool that will soon become available from MBIE. The Commission's guidance includes a four-step health and safety risk assessment process including an example risk assessment tool.

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.

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

This will depend on whether an employee’s work can be done safely by an unvaccinated worker or if not, whether there are suitable alternatives. Termination is a last resort.

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 is a last resort. 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.

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 that not providing the information will result in the agency presuming the employee is unvaccinated and the consequences of this.

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 in the short-term 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.

How will an employee know if they are a close contact of a COVID-19 case?

The Ministry of Health website identifies locations of interest. Anyone who has been at a location of interest during the relevant timeframe and/or been advised by the Ministry of Health, public health unit, or the COVID tracer app must follow the health instructions provided. Further information can be found at Contact tracing for COVID-19 | Ministry of Health NZ.

Does the guidance apply to contractors who are carrying out work at a worksite?

For health and safety purposes contractors are considered workers. The guidance uses the term “workers” when it applies to contractors. “Employees” in the guidance means anyone with an employment relationship with the agency – permanent, fixed-term or casual.

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

Information on events and gatherings can be found at Traffic lights | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) under the Traffic Lights tab.

Workplaces are not gatherings or events.

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?

No. The employee will need to discuss this with their employer before travelling.

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 at My Vaccine Pass | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

The COVID-19 Protection Framework indicates that localised protections and lockdowns may be used. Where can I find the latest information on what settings apply and where across New Zealand?

Always refer to the Alert Level boundary map | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) for the latest information on what settings apply and where.

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

The Protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 | Ministry of Health NZ and Government Health and Safety Lead’s employee resource on reducing the spread of COVID-19 websites 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:

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