The business sector has welcomed the Government's announcement today requiring vaccinations for all workers where customers must show vaccination certificates to access business services.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today a sweeping vaccine mandate in businesses in the hospitality sector, and others including gyms, barbers, and hairdressers where customers are expected to have vaccine certificates.
Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said the organisation had been asking the Government for more protection and clarity and it was pleasing to have finally received it.
"However, the reality is it will cause stress for both employees and employers. We are concerned this will exacerbate our labour shortages post Covid-19," she said.
"We have been invited to consult further with the Government on the details for hospitality and accommodation operators."
Ardern said the Government has already mandated for workers in certain sectors, such as healthcare and at the border, to be vaccinated.
The new rules will include face-to-face businesses such as hospitality, retail, gyms, hairdressers and other workplaces where workers come into contact with customers, she said.
Wood said vaccinating was the most important thing Kiwis could do to keep whānau and workplaces safe.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said vaccination mandates for workers in the hospitality industry will present challenges but were welcomed.
"This is a tricky new area of employment law, and so ensuring that businesses owners are legally empowered to enforce vaccinations in workplaces is a positive step towards ensuring safe and healthy workplaces," Bidois said.
In a September survey of its members, 40 per cent of respondents indicated they would be willing to put a vaccination policy in their workplaces while 25 per cent were unsure.
"In our discussions with members, feedback has shown some concerns around enforcing a policy that could make employers liable for discrimination on the basis of vaccination status," she said.
"Whilst mandating a policy is a welcome step towards helping to keep businesses safe and operational, there is still an ongoing concern around losing valued employees to the mandate.
"We need to remember that our industry is still suffering a skills shortage and so rolling this out is going to have to be carefully managed to reduce the risk of losing a percentage of our workforce."
Retail New Zealand chief executive Greg Harford said the greater certainty around vaccinations was a good thing for employers and employees.
"Across the broader retail sector, there will be businesses where vaccinations for workers are mandated by Government (for example, hairdressers, beauty therapists and supermarkets), and other businesses where employers need to undertake a risk assessment," Harford said.
"Retail NZ is keen to work with Government to ensure there is real clarity around the risk assessment framework to be used.
"Retail NZ also thinks it is important the Government protect employers from the risk of legal action by disgruntled employees. We will continue to seek the support of the Government on this."