Concern over managing vaccination passes

Etrusco at the Savoy co-owner Meegan Gianone and her family (from left) Federico, Rion and Zane...
Etrusco at the Savoy co-owner Meegan Gianone and her family (from left) Federico, Rion and Zane are all ready with their vaccine passports. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
A Dunedin restaurant owner is worried customers will take out their frustrations on her staff when the Government’s new vaccine passes come into force in 10 days.

It comes after yesterday’s announcement by Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood of new details concerning the mandated vaccination in the workplace and also the use of the My Vaccine Passes.

The Government released a new simplified vaccination assessment tool that could be used from mid-December to help employers decide if they required the Covid-19 vaccination in the workplace.

The assessment, which had input from WorkSafe, BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions, will specify four key factors — the size of the work space, how close people are to others, how long they are near others, and whether they provide services to people vulnerable to Covid-19 — and at least three must be met, before it would be reasonable to require vaccination.

Mr Wood also announced that staff at businesses that must use My Vaccine Passes must have had their first shot by December 3 and be fully vaccinated by January 17, 2022.

Businesses refusing to enforce vaccine passes could face a fine of up to $15,000.

Dunedin restaurateur Meegan Gianone, who co-owns Etrusco at the Savoy, said all their staff were double vaccinated and she was pleased the Government was making the vax passes compulsory.

"If this is the way it is going to be, then it is best it is mandated for everyone."

It was another thing businesses had to deal with and Mrs Gianone had questions about how they were meant to police the vaccines passes.

"Do we employ someone at the door to check and how do we do that? Plus it is an extra cost to us."

While most of Dunedin’s population support the vaccine, Mrs Gianone was concerned some customers could take their frustration out on staff.

"What we want people to know is that we are learning this as we go so just give us some time because we are all in this together," Mrs Gianone said.

Business South chief executive Mike Collins said the assessment tool provided much needed clarity for businesses which were previously struggling to understand if they could mandate vaccination in the workplace.

"Any tools or framework the Government can give to business to make it easier for them is very much appreciated," he said.

A webinar was going to be held for local businesses in the next week to answer any questions they might have about the new policy, Mr Collins said.

Anderson Lloyd partner John Farrow, who specialises in employment law, said the announcement provided clarity for businesses wanting to mandate vaccination but he believed WorkSafe’s website had more factors on its website that they should also be considering.

Mr Farrow had been inundated by businesses struggling to understand the process.

Businesses that were still having difficulty understanding the framework should still seek advice, Mr Farrow said.

The legislation allowing the risk assessment as well as introducing four weeks’ paid notice of termination and paid time off to get vaccinated would be passed under urgency this week.

Vaccination

My Vaccine Passes

- Vaccination will be required for all workers at businesses that must use My Vaccine Passes to operate from December 3.

- Non-vaccinated employees doing work that requires vaccination will be given a new four-week paid termination notice period.

- Employers will be required to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.

Vaccination assessment tool

- The tool will have four factors for businesses to consider when making the vaccine a requirement, three of which must be met.

- It will be optional for businesses to use the tool.

- It has had input from BusinessNZ, WorkSafe and Council of Trade Unions.

riley.kennedy@odt.co.nz

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