Your workplace vaccination policy and procedure
You might think it’s easy when it comes to requiring staff to get vaccinated. They should be given the choice – jab or job, right?
Wrong. It’s not so simple at all, especially when it comes to vaccinations for existing staff in frontline positions eg health and social service staff.
It’s a balancing act
There’s some important interests like human rights and public health to think about and balance:
- the right to refuse and give informed consent to medical treatment under the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 (sections 10&11); Code of Health and Disability Rights (sections 6 & 7)
- an employer’s obligation to take all due care to provide a safe and healthy workplace
- a worker’s obligation to take reasonable care to avoid causing harm to themselves and others
- the duty on an agency to take reasonable care to avoid causing foreseeable harm to clients, consumers etc.
And, amongst this, community levels of COVID-19 are also relevant and must be considered.
A positive work culture
Good faith and relationships in the workplace are also important to consider. Public debate too easily descends into blaming and name-calling.
You want to avoid to the greatest extent possible division and friction in the workplace about vaccination. The world is divided enough and a positive work culture is integral to retaining staff and achieving good results.
What to cover in your vaccination policy and procedure
See here for our Key Tips for your Workplace Vaccination policy and procedure.
Another key tip is to be upfront with your policy intent. If you want to encourage vaccination state it, state it at the front or start of your policy. For example, that –
” the organisation supports kaimahi/staff to obtain vaccination as an important way to mitigate risks of infection of COVID 19.”
Likewise, if you’re worried about workplace divide and impact on culture, include it in your intent. As we suggested in Key Tips for your Workplace Vaccination policy and procedure, an important way to show good faith is to get staff input to the development and review of the policy and procedure.
Warning, ensure your policy requirements are consistent with your intent. If you’re only wanting to encourage vaccination, then stick to that. Don’t venture into mandating vaccination.
Any requirement for vaccination must be justifiable given the risks of a job and an assessment that vaccination as opposed to others measures is the best and safest way of managing those risks. You can’t require vaccination as a way of encouraging it.
In How your policy and procedure can bridge the vaccination divide we gave some ideas to head off division and disharmony in the workplace in relation to vaccination. A key strategy is to be rational about it.
Your policy and procedure should reflect an objective risk assessment of roles in your workforce. This risk assessment will help justify why vaccination is a requirement for some positions. It will also help you identify roles where vaccination may not be necessary.
Information and support
Where reasonably practicable, support staff to get vaccinated eg time off for them and their dependents to get vaccinated and to recover if there are any after-effects; referral to public health information about vaccination.
Be an open book when it comes to information. Make sure staff are informed about all the issues relating to Covid-19, vaccination and how it’s relevant to their work and whānau.
For staff who are seem more hesitant about vaccination, engage with them in good faith and support them to address their concerns and questions. An in-person or at least one-to-one engagement with the kaimahi/staff member (with the option to invite their whānau) is likely to be most effective.
Check out Key Tips for your Workplace Vaccination policy and procedure for some more ideas about how to support vaccination.
Don’t forget to require proof of vaccination in your policy and procedure. Testing regimes have shown the danger of relying on self-reports.
Require the evidence to be kept on file. You are likely to need it if vaccinations are going to be required on a regular or annual basis to be effective.
Address the challenge
Your policy should include a process for kaimahi/staff, who are unable to be vaccinated because of a pre-existing health condition, and for those who refuse vaccination.
You don’t want these staff to hide they are not vaccinated and the risks this brings. So outlining the process and addressing fears like dismissal is important.
Incorporating your Good faith in Employment policy and procedure will be important. The process could involve steps like the following:
- assessment and application of other protections to the relevant staff (eg PPE, masks) for the person to continue in their role in light of the assessed risks (above)
- an agreed change of duties or position where there is less risk
- through to resignation and termination (if unable to adequately address safety risks.)
Good news – if you’re a member of our online policy and procedure service, we’ve already got you covered.
If you’re not a member, now’s the time to start on your DIY workplace vaccination policy and procedure. Check out our posts on vaccination and DIY policy and procedure for help.