Korowai Tupu: Vaccination Health Order Summary

Tēnā koutou katoa, ko te manako kia noho ora pai koutou i roto i tō ake mirumiru.
We hope you are all safe, warm and well within the comfort of your bubble.

He whakatauki
He waka eke noa | We are all on the waka together

Youth workers, their organisations  and the wider youth sector are on the front line in working with rangatahi throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In acknoweldging this mahi, vaccination for some youth workers has just become mandated by the Government. For others vaccination may not be legally required, but they and their organisations are grappling with how to keep everyone safe. This document seeks to bring clarity for the youth sector around these issues.

Note: this document does not provide legal advice, but does collate publicly available information and seek to apply it for the youth sector.

The Government has made a health order stating that vaccinations are now mandated for those working in educational and health & disability settings. Those working in those settings will be required to have their first dose by 15 November 2021 and their second by 1 January 2022. 

Implications for Youth Workers and others who work with young people in health or education

Health & Disability: This mandate will impact some youth workers, not all. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Health practitioners as defined by the Health Practitioner’s Competence Act 2003 
  • Workers who carry out work where health services are provided to members of the public by 1 or more health practitioners and whose role involves being within 2 metres or less of a health practitioner or a member of the public for a period of 15 minutes or more  
  • Workers employed or engaged by certified providers who carry out work at the premises at which the health care services are provided  
  • Care and support workers – a person employed or engaged to carry out work that includes going to the home or place of residence of another person to provide care and support services 

A good example of those who would be mandated under this order would be those working in Youth One Stop Shops – they work alongside those covered under the HPCA, in spaces that provide health services.

Education: If you are going into a school for more than just dropping children off / the occasional meeting then you must be vaccinated. This includes teachers, aides, grounds people, counsellors, YWiS, SWiS, sports coordinators, etc…

Exceptions: Effectively the only exceptions are those who are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons. The Ministry of Health estimates that these people will be fewer than 700 individuals. If you are one of these people, your GP will provide you with a certificate stating this and other plans should be made to keep you, your Rangatahi and others you work with as safe as possible.

Where compulsory vaccinations are not required, but a youth service is concerned about safety if their workers are unvaccinated:

In these circumstances the answer is not black and white as to whether or not compulsary vaccination can be required by a youth organisation. The following legal principles need to be considered:

  • NZ Bill of Rights Act: right to refuse medical treatment.
  • Employment Relations Act and Human Rights Act: right to freedom from discrimination for any of the recognised grounds, including disability
  • Health and Safety at Work Act: provides a primary responsiblity to ensure the health and safety of workersand others at risk.

In considering whether to require compulsory vaccinations outside of the government mandates, organisations must consider whether it is fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances.

Other considerations include:

  • How high is the risk to young people you are working with (including under 12 year olds who cannot be vaccinated, young people with disabilities or young people in care or residence)?
  • Are the reasons for the vaccination reluctance or refusal for underlying health conditions?
  • Is community transmission present?
  • Can the person who prefers not to be vaccinated be given other tasks or work remotely?
  • Are there other ways transmission can be minimised (including use of PPE)?

The government has released vaccine mandate advice for businesses. There are four criteria, at least three of which must be met before a business can require vaccination:

  • Workers are in an area with less than 100m2 indoor space
  • Workers work less than 1m apart from other people
  • Workers are routinely near others for more than 15 minutes
  • That the workers provide services to people vulnerable to COVID-19

Businesses that opt in or are required to use the passes, but those which fail to enforce them, are set to face penalties which are being increased from $300 to $12,000 for a company, or $15,000 for a court-imposed fine for a company.

We encourage anyone who is considering requiring vaccination of existing employees or potential new employees, or  considering legal consequences for employees who refuse vacinatons to obtain legal advice.

This is a constantly changing space. So we would advise that where possible you keep as up to date as possible. The best sources of information are likely to be the Ministry of Health and Unite Against COVID-19 websites.

Ngā tini manaakitanga ki a koutou | Stay safe and be kind,
Korowai Tupu Rōpū

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