Vaccination certificates will become increasingly important for work and business travel and the New Zealand Government has announced new legislation to guide decisions on what type of work needs vaccination.
To align with the recently announced COVID-19 Protection Framework, the Government will mandate vaccinations for workers at businesses where customers need to show COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates, such as hospitality and close-contact businesses. The Government is continuing to work with business and unions on when this mandate will come into effect, which will likely be by the end of November.
For businesses where a Government vaccine mandate is not in place, the law will include a risk assessment process for employers to follow when deciding whether they can require vaccination for different types of work. This will cover factors like who workers interact with during their work days and how close that contact is, as well as ensuring our critical infrastructure and lifeline utilities can continue even if there has been exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. This risk assessment will build on guidance already provided by WorkSafe.
The legislation will also include provisions for paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, helping raise workplace vaccination rates.
If an employee chooses not to get vaccinated for work that requires it, employment law will still apply. Employees and employers must continue to deal in good faith. Employers must still consider all reasonable alternatives, such as finding other work within the business that does not require vaccination.
The law change will introduce four weeks’ paid notice for any employee who has their job terminated because they are not vaccinated, and whose job requires it.
The legislation is expected to come into effect in December and further guidance will be published before then.
While the proposed legislation is not yet in effect, you can start assessing your workplace and vaccination requirement options using the guidance provided by WorkSafe. Just like with health and safety assessments, employers will have to consult workers and their representatives when using this risk assessment process.
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Travelling with Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand revealed that domestic travellers on Air New Zealand services will need to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative Covid test prior to travel. The airline is planning to have the change in place by December 14 for an initial period until March 31, 2022.
It will apply to all passengers aged 12 or older travelling on an Air New Zealand aircraft within New Zealand. All vaccines and tests approved by the New Zealand Government will be accepted.
Those not fully vaccinated will need to provide evidence of a negative covid test taken within 72 hours before departure, from either free community testing or their GP. If customers are unable to provide proof before their flight, they can put their fare into credit or get a refund, if they have purchased a fare that allows them to apply for a refund.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive, Greg Foran said the change is about reducing the spread of Covid-19 ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer as Kiwis reconnect with friends and family.
How to get vaccination certificates online
Everyone in New Zealand aged 16 and over can access their COVID-19 vaccination records online through a new website called My Covid Record. Soon, this will also be where you can download domestic and international digital vaccination certificates and find your COVID-19 test results.
At the moment, vaccination records will only show if the vaccinations have been administered in New Zealand. These records are for personal reference and cannot be used as proof of vaccination for overseas travel. Digital vaccination certificates will be available from late November 2021.
Accessing your NHI number as a QR code will make visiting places like COVID-19 testing sites quick and easy, as it allows us to scan the QR code to identify you.
You will also be able to access your most recent COVID-19 test results in My Covid Record.
There will be different vaccination certificates depending on whether you are using them within New Zealand, or for international travel. The QR codes will be different, and your international certificate will have more personal information.
You will be able to either print or save the QR codes on your smartphone in your Apple Wallet or Google Pay.
From late November 2021, everyone in New Zealand will be able to access a digital vaccination certificate. This will include a QR code, which you can print or save to your phone.
You may be required to show this as proof of vaccination in a range of public settings. This could include events, hospitality and retail stores.
Requiring vaccination certificates will be optional for many locations.
You will not be required to show proof of vaccination to access supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, food banks and petrol stations.
International digital vaccination certificate
From late November 2021 you will be able to download a digital certificate as proof of vaccination for international travel.
You can choose to print this and carry it in your passport or save it on your phone or laptop. These certificates will meet international standards. For more information visit: https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19-vaccines/getting-proof-of-your-vaccination/