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.

Policy Intent

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.

Risk assessment

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.

Prove it

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.)

Get ready

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.

How your policy and procedure can bridge the vaccination divide


Covid-19 vaccination is going to be the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel. In Aotearoa/New Zealand we now have a guide about when we are likely to enter the light.

But is it the light? As vaccinations start to roll out, there’s more public debate about the consequences of not getting vaccinated.

Big issues to resolve

Are we now going to be divided by regulations for vaccinated and non-vaccinated people? What about the ethical and social issues involved?

It’s not looking pretty if we’re facing a future of sanctioned “haves” and “have nots”.  Yet, a future with more illness and deaths from Covid-19 and the consequent need for more controls and restrictions in the workplace and other areas looks equally dire.

There’s a lot of issues to resolve. Public discussion about social and legal regulation associated with Covid-19 vaccinations is likely to therefore continue for some time.

Workplace issues

Meantime, it’s important that NZ workplaces continue to use pandemic controls. Social distancing and hygiene practices should be adhered to regardless of vaccination status.

It’s also important that workplaces involved in frontline delivery of health and social services get their policies and procedures on vaccination sorted. Last time, we posted some suggestions for what should be covered in your workplace vaccination policy and procedure.

Today, given the prospect of social divides around vaccination, we suggest that another big challenge for your policy and procedure is to address the risks of division and acrimony in the workplace around vaccinations.


Our 3 tips for your workplace vaccination policy are to:

  • take a risk-based approach so that any requirements for vaccination will be justified by reference to likely health effects
  • support kaimahi/staff to make their decisions on an informed basis
  • communicate with kaimahi/staff from beginning to end about the policy. Be open to feedback and to the possibility of making adjustments and changes as you go along.

There’s enough division in the world already. Workplaces have often been a microcosm of social divides. We need to learn from past mistakes, not repeat them.

So be deliberative with your workplace policy. Yes, prioritise the safety of staff and clients. But don’t forget how important our relationships, social cohesion, and respect for rights are.

Have fun

It’s always a challenge to get the balance right with policies and procedures. But that’s the fun factor of doing policy work for us at the Policy Place (yes we are policy geeks.)

If policy isn’t your thing but you need your workplace vaccination policy done or need all your policies and procedures reviewed and updated, contact us. Choose to be free to focus on what you do best and love and to let us do your policies and procedures.

Key tips for your workplace vaccination policy and procedure

With vaccinations for Covid-19 becoming available, what’s going to be your agency position on it? Do you even need a position?

Important questions, particularly, if you’re a social and health service providing direct care services.

If you think you need an agency position on Covid-19 vaccinations, then it’s time to get cracking on your policy and procedure.

The big issues

There are some important considerations for your policy and procedure including:

  • your health and safety duties as an employer or worker
  • that a person can’t generally be compelled to have medical treatment
  • the right to give informed consent
  • likely consequences of exposure given the characteristics of staff in the role
  • it is unlawful to discriminate against a person based on disability or health status subject to limited exceptions.

Nuts and bolts

At the Policy Place, we work with social, health, and education agencies to provide online policies and procedures and bespoke policies. We can help you with your vaccination and other policies.

But if you’re into DIY, here are some key questions to think about when developing your policy and procedure on Covid 19 vaccinations for your existing workforce.

Are there any roles for which vaccination is necessary?

In other words, are there roles that, if not vaccinated, would place staff, clients, and others at unacceptable risk?   Some things to think about are:

  • the extent of exposure to Covid-19 in the role
  • the vulnerability of persons you are dealing with
  • whether other measures can be implemented to deal with risks (eg masks, physical distancing)
  • what difference community context might make eg high rates of community transmission versus lower rates and how your policy and procedure should respond.

What provision should be made for staff who, because of a pre-existing health condition, can’t get vaccinated?

Staff in this position are likely to have some good ideas. These could include:

  • taking extra precautions for them to remain with their current duties?
  • altering their duties to reduce risk of exposure
  • moving the staff to roles less exposed to risk.

What should be the response for staff vulnerable to severe symptoms of Covid 19?

The health and safety duty for an employing agency requires reasonable steps to prevent harm. If staff have known conditions (including family members who are vulnerable) then reasonable steps must be responsive to the relevant condition.

Participation and input from the affected staff about their needs and measures to keep them safe until vaccination will be an important part of your policy and procedure.

If you’ve already had vulnerable staff, then you’ve got the benefit of hindsight. Your policy and procedure can provide for current measures to continue or, can address what hasn’t worked. It may be necessary to provide temporary measures like opportunities for remote work and extra safety measures for the staff concerned.

How can you encourage and support staff to get vaccinated?

If you’re a health or social service providing direct services, your policy and procedure can encourage staff to receive vaccinations with measures like:

  • time off to receive the vaccination
  • arrangements to access information about the vaccination from independent and trusted sources
  • information about the consequences of choosing not to be vaccinated on their role/duties.

So if vaccination is going to important in your workplace, it’s time to get started on your policy and procedure.

Contact us NOW if you want help with your policies and procedures.

Choose our online policy and procedure service and rest easy knowing your policies and procedures are being regularly reviewed and updated.