Whangārei District Council is formally discouraging its staff from spreading Covid-19 "misinformation".
This is part of the council's new Covid-19 vaccination policy.
"Council discourages the spread of misinformation about the vaccination, its side effects or efficacy," the council's policy said.
The council's 390 staff are instead being "encouraged" to access and obtain accurate information about the risks of Covid-19 and how best to manage these.
WDC chief executive Rob Forlong said in line with the policy, Covid-19 information WDC provided for its staff would come largely from the Ministry of Health, Northland District Health Board and Unite against Covid-19 websites.
The policy said employees and others in the council's workplaces are required to be respectful and tolerant of differing viewpoints relating to vaccinations and display manaakitanga or kindness towards each other.
WDC's policy is one of three in Northland. Kaipara District Council (KDC) and Northland Regional Council (NRC) also have new policies. Far North District Council (FNDC) has a "position statement".
Northland's four councils employ more than 1300 staff. They say dealing with staff vaccination requirements because of the pandemic is a constantly evolving area of management.
Councils' deadlines such as FNDC's January 10 and NRC's February 1 for council staff in high-risk roles to be vaccinated have passed - but none of the councils would reveal whether unvaccinated people in deemed high-risk jobs had or were going to lose positions as a result, or the number of people affected.
The councils' position tends initially towards job role changes. This includes unvaccinated staff in high-risk positions being shifted to other roles or high-risk parts of roles being removed where possible.
"We have … carried out risk assessments for all staff. Where that risk assessment shows a high risk then those staff must be double-vaxxed or (if we can) we will redeploy them to a safe role. Our staff are part of our wider whanau, and our tikanga/values are for us to keep our staff with us if we can," Forlong said.
Identified public facing and high-risk staff roles include education in schools, librarians, building inspectors and service centre reception.
Forlong would not be drawn on how many council roles fitted into the high-risk category.
He said WDC's role-based risk assessment template focused on health and safety and business continuity. It has been developed based on initial guidance from WorkSafe NZ.
FNDC chief executive Shaun Clarke said unvaccinated staff in identified high-risk and/or public facing roles had not lost their jobs. At edition time, there had been a role change for 10 FNDC staff.
Clarke said FNDC had not required across-the-board Covid-19 vaccination information from its 400 staff, saying it was not permitted to do so by law.
Northland councils are requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for staff in high-risk roles only. KDC general manager engagement and transformation Jason Marris said the policy had been introduced in December after consultation with staff. Those among the council's 208 staff in deemed high-risk roles were required to be vaccinated.
Marris said those in low to medium-risk roles could volunteer their vaccination status but were not required to provide it.
Forlong says education, border workers, corrections and health and disability sectors currently had mandatory vaccination requirements.
"Council's policy is that wherever possible we will only send council staff with a My Vaccine pass to visit mandated vaccinated workplaces or sites," Forlong said.
He said the council required vaccination passports for all WDC contractors' workers and subcontractors working on mandated workplaces or sites.
Vaccination passports were required for WDC event staff and the public attending council events. This also applied to those hiring council facilities and the public entering them.
However, WDC is allowing unvaccinated ratepayers into council offices.
"To show maanaki to our ratepayers and residents, whatever their vax status, unvaccinated ratepayers are allowed into council offices. However, our staff will wear masks and maintain physical distancing in face-to-face meetings," Forlong said.
NRC chief executive Malcolm Nicolson said his council required staff in high-risk roles to be vaccinated and strongly encouraged, but did not require, all its 236 staff to get vaccinated.
"If certain work cannot be done by an unvaccinated worker, NRC can ask a worker about their vaccination status," Nicolson said.
"If the worker does not disclose (or provide evidence about) their vaccination status, NRC may assume the worker has not been vaccinated for the purposes of managing health and safety risks. NRC would then seek to assign such work to a suitably vaccinated worker," he said.
"Where workers in roles deemed as high-risk are not fully vaccinated, including those who have a medical exemption, then NRC will follow the requirements of the Employment Relations Act and act in good faith by consulting with employees to consider the options available for redeployment or alternative duties."
Forlong said WDC's major priority was to make sure its key main services including water supply, rubbish collection and waste water services that the community needed every day would continue to be provided uninterrupted.