National | Employment

No jab, No job is legal, employment lawyer says

The New Zealand Principals' Federation says teachers are already quitting across the motu.

That comes in reaction to the government's announcement of compulsory covid-19 vaccinations, if staff want to keep their jobs beyond January 1.

Employment lawyer Shelley Kopu says it would be incredibly difficult for employers or employees to challenge the vaccination mandate for those in high-risk areas of the health and disability sector and the education sector.

“Can you say no to the vaccine? Yes, you can. Will you still be able to undertake your particular role? Most likely not. If it's encapsulated in law, even if the employer disagrees with the order, they are compelled to follow the requirement for vaccination if the employee's role falls within the category of the public health order.”

Kopu adds that it’s important for employers to follow a three-step process to determine which roles fall within the high-risk order, informing employees of the requirement to vaccinate and allowing suitable timeframes to get vaccinated and having a fair and reasonable process.

“Now that will involve consulting employees, listening to their feedback, and coming up with alternative options such as re-employment to other roles that don’t fit within this high-risk area, and that will be a lot harder with education sector than say health.”

The cabinet also decided on Monday to mandate vaccinations for many in the health and disability sector by December 1.