News and updates from the team

Vaccinations and the Workplace

We know that Covid-19 vaccinations and what this means for employees and employers is a hot topic. We have put together some information for you to help make the best decisions for your workplaces.

Can I make my employees get the vaccination?
You cant make it a requirement for an employee to get a vaccination, but you may be able to make it a requirement for positions. Currently, there are legal requirements for specific workplaces, and you will know if this is your workplace. For all other workplaces you need to consider three key pieces of legislation

  • Health and Safety at Work Act – what is the true risk to employees of a) coming into contact with Covid-19 and b) passing Covid-19 to other employees, are there other measures I can put in place (PPE, hygiene measures, assign employees to other parts of the organisation).  Check the WorkSafe guidance on assessing roles here.
  • Human Rights Act – if you ask someone during the recruitment and interview phase if they are vaccinated, you need to make sure you do not indirectly or directly discriminate against them based on their vaccination status
  • Privacy Act – if you ask an employee their vaccination status, they have the right not to tell you.

However, you can then make a decision based on the information you have (ie to move them to a different part of the workplace that is less “risky” for contracting Covid-19. You will have to tell the employee that you will make the decision assuming they are not vaccinated as they have not told you. You cannot share an employees vaccination status unless for employment related purposes.

 At the moment this is a hugely debated topic between ministers and lawyers. Some key advice we have seen is that it will most likely be very hard to put in mandatory vaccinations for current employment conditions, but you could look to include it in all new employment offers and agreements based on the requirement for positions. However, you will need to make sure you have considered the legislation above and what this might mean if the person does not want to be vaccinated. An example – you are offering an employee a role and that role requires international travel to a country that requires vaccination before entry – can they meet the requirements of the role if they aren’t vaccinated?

How do I make sure my employees are fully informed about the vaccine so they can make an educated and informed decision?
Key issues we are seeing nationwide is the rapid sharing of misinformation and facts about the vaccine. It is important to make sure that employees have up to date information and that they know where to get truthful information from. People are vulnerable to information they read all over social media and from their family and friends.
Make sure you have information readily available to help them make an informed choice.

What can we do to encourage employees to get vaccinated?
MBIE promotes making sure employers encourage and support their employees to get vaccinated and to make sure they do this whilst ensuring workers are disadvantaged for doing so. Potential ways you can make sure employees aren’t disadvantaged:

  • Let them know they will be paid to attend a vaccination appointment
  • Offer them a computer or guidance on how to book an appointment online
  • Provide them with the resources of where to get vaccinated and up to date information around vaccines
  • Talk with Team Leads/Managers that are well respected in the business – they may be the best people who know how to talk to and relate to your workforce

What else is there to consider?

  • Religious and ethnic reasons against vaccinations
  • Those with medical reasons that prevent them from being able to be vaccinated
  • Consider how mandating vaccinations in your workplace might be received by your workforce, consider taking an engagement and education approach
  • What other role options are there available in the business that might not require them to be vaccinated

Everyone is also entitled to make an informed choice and it is important that workplaces support informed choices by providing accurate and up to date information.

Make sure you speak to employees with empathy and understanding. Communication is key. 

Immigration Update

Important Immigration announcements were made on 15 July 2021 which are important if your business hires migrants workers, you can read the full announcement here, a summary of the important points are as follows:

  • The median pay rate for essential skills work visas increases to $27 per hour from Monday 19th July, the maximum duration for applications for jobs paid below the median wage will increase from 6 months to 24 months.
  • Employers won’t be required to complete a labour market test where a worker is applying for a visa for a full-time role which the worker already holds. These applicants also won’t need to provide medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand if that information has been supplied previously.
  • The new Accredited Employer Work Visa, which was due to come into effect on 1 November, will be delayed until the middle of next year. An update will be provided as soon as an exact date is confirmed.

We are working closely with Businesses and their migrant workers to help understand the constant changes and delays to decisions by immigration, if you are uncertain please contact Jenny, our licensed Immigration Adviser 

Sick Leave Entitlement Update

The Government have provided the date for which minimum Sick Leave entitlements will increase to 10 days. The date this comes into effect is 24 July 2021. 

How this looks for business:

  • Employees will be entitled to 10 days Sick Leave at their next sick leave anniversary date following 24 July.
  • Someone who’s anniversary who is 23 July 2021 would not be entitled to the 10 days until 23 July 2022 (though nothing stops employers from providing more than their minimum legislative requirements)
  • Someone who’s entitlement date is 11 September and they currently have 3 days sick leave will then be entitled to their additional 10 days giving them 13 days sick leave on 11 September
  • The legal minimum of carry over sick leave remains at 20 days 

Employment Agreements:

  • If your current employment agreement states that employees are entitled to 5 days – legislation trumps agreements and you will not need to do a variation to the contract. To let staff know you could send out an email or company memo/newsletter/poster.
  • It is a timely reminder to review your Employment Agreements and make sure they comply with legislation (not just leave) and if there are any clauses that may need to be added, re-worded or removed to meet your current and future business needs

What we recommend:

  • Contact the People Plus team if you would like to talk about your Employment Agreements or for us to conduct a review
  • Contact your payroll provider and see if they will be managing the Sick Leave change in the system or if you need to do this at your end  
  • Think about how you will communicate with employees if they ask about their new sick leave entitlements

We are always here! So, if you have any questions, just give us a call and we will be happy to help 😊.

Wellness while working from home

Working from home has become the new norm for many of us and while we try our best to settle in to this new routine, it isn't always smooth sailing. Many of us may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious about our new lifestyle, so our team has pulled together some tips to help with this transition. We want to ensure individual wellness while working from home, to help productivity, as well as, motivation. 

Getting through together

How's everyone feeling as we enter our second full week of Alert Level 4? Anxious? Drained? Maybe you've chilled out from having a much needed break from the craziness of normal life? This isolation is certainly a strain for some, and you may be surprised at your own reaction to our national crisis. We've found a great website with information and inspiration to keep us going through these trying times. Have a look!   Getting Through Together