VACCINE PASSPORTS – THE TICKET TO THE FUTURE

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As we see a growing move overseas for the use of vaccine (green card) passports as proof of being vaccinated, NZ businesses need to begin considering the implications of this for the future of their operations.

On the Global Front, only this week we have seen the National Basketball Association (NBA) in America provide an ‘executive order’ to teams that prevents unvaccinated players taking the court. Furthermore, they have deemed that unvaccinated players will remain unpaid while on any period of stand down, potentially costing players several million dollars each. This decision followed a similar move within New Zealand where the NZ Breakers confirmed the mutual split with star player Tai Webster due to his decision to remain unvaccinated, preventing him from travelling with the team to attend overseas games.

On Thursday 28th Sept, the Government announced that a vaccination app is currently being developed by the Ministry of Health, with this to be introduced in early November 2021. While this is primarily being focused on kickstarting the stagnating events industry (summer concerts), it is natural that this will then roll out into being “the ticket” needed to gain entry to cafes, restaurants and cinemas, as it has overseas.

The introduction of this initiative is already causing business owners and managers to consider the implications of this on their operations including – whether they will require visitors to the company to show proof of being vaccinated, or whether their staff will be required to provide proof of vaccination to enter a client site in order to undertake their work duties or responsibilities.

These questions further challenge the employer regarding their stance on whether they can require employees to be vaccinated, and what will happen with existing staff who elect to remain unvaccinated.

While issues of Human Rights (personal choice) will still need to be considered, the introduction of the Government’s pending Vaccination App will begin to support a businesses ability to impose clear protocols regarding site access and role specific vaccine requirements.

Such decisions will remain the sole prerogative of each business however, amongst our clients, we are already seeing increasing external pressures being placed on businesses to provide confirmation that hands on staff either producing products for overseas markets or providing services into other companies, are fully vaccinated. These confirmation requests are expected to increase significantly over coming months with businesses now being placed in a position where strategic decisions will need to be made in order to retain specific clients and contracts in the future.

For companies who have staff working on client sites, it has been a common requirement that such staff may be required to be subject to the client’s on-site rules and regulations (health and safety, induction and entry / exit procedures). For some forms of contract work this has also required field-based workers to submit to regular drug testing as a criteria of site entry, or to also consent to a police criminal records check. It can therefore be expected that ‘proof of vaccination’ will soon also join the list of entry consent requirements.

On this basis, the requirement for companies to have robust Vaccination Policies and Protocols in place for their staff will become a necessary HR related tool to enable you to navigate your way effectively through the upcoming challenges.

If you don’t already have a comprehensive Vaccination Policy in place, please feel free to call us directly to discuss how we can support you in breaching this gap.

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