Department of Conservation requires all new hut guardians, campground hosts, or visitor center staff to have their vaccinations. Sudima Hotels may also implement a similar policy, a report said.
Michael O’Brien, the Auckland employment lawyer, says that businesses are asking more questions since lockdown. We are receiving more questions from businesses asking if they can mandate that employees be vaccinated.
Recent updates to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website include advice for businesses.
Businesses cannot require that any person be vaccinated. Businesses can however require certain work to be performed only by vaccinated employees, in cases where there is a high chance of others contracting or transmitting Covid-19,” the advice states.
A local report was informed by the Department of Conservation that they have assessed whether hut wardens, campground hosts, or staff at visitor centers are at greater risk.
A spokesperson for DOC stated that all three roles involve high levels of interaction with visitors. This is not possible to mitigate by using PPE or any other equipment.
“Due to the nature of these positions, there is a high chance that a staff member may become infected by Covid-19 and spread it to others they come in contact with during the course of their duties.”
Les Morgan, chief operating officer of Sudima Hotels, says that hotel staff poses a greater risk due to their frequent contact with guests and their inability to enter guest rooms. He believes that making mandatory vaccinations for all new staff is the right decision.
“If New Zealand wants to be attractive, then we should make every effort in the tourism sector to mitigate any risks.”
Nick Mason, a Nelson employment lawyer, says there is work to be done to make it easier for businesses. “The area where you have to decide when work must be done by a person who has been vaccinated, that’s the main area of confusion. It’s not at all clear.”
He suggests that bullet points from Government would be useful to indicate which high-risk roles are.
Employers should consider alternative employment options if an employee refuses to get vaccinated in high-risk positions.
Mason stated, “There will be a lot of people whose jobs must be done by vaccinated persons and if they don’t choose to, there’s simply not a job for them.”
Mason states that it is easier to require vaccination for new employees, but employers still have to consider whether they are at high risk.