Countdown consults staff on vaccine mandate

The spread of the Delta variant is a cause for concern for many employers

Countdown consults staff on vaccine mandate

Countdown supermarket has begun consultations with staff over a proposed vaccine mandate that’ll require all workers to be fully immunised against COVID-19 by January 10. Kiri Hannifin, Countdown's director of health, safety, and well-being, attributed the new policy to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

"This proposal has come about as all of Aotearoa continues to respond to the more transmissible Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus and would apply to all Countdown team, regardless of their role or location of work," said Hannifin as quoted by 1News.

According to the director, the spread of the Delta variant made it clear that the supermarket needs further measures to keep their employees safe, and vaccination is proven to reduce the risk of people contracting COVID-19. 

In New Zealand, supermarkets are not allowed to request for proof of vaccinations from customers - a move that Countdown said poses a "significant" risk to its workers.

Read more: Countdown urges government to up priority for supermarket workers in vaccine roll-out

"As an essential service, supermarkets will be one of the very few places where proof of vaccination will not be a requirement of entry for the general public. That has the potential to pose a significant health and safety risk to our team and, as an employer, we must reduce that risk as much as we can," said Hannifin.

The company's move is a step forward from its previous statement late last month when it said it is only "actively considering" vaccinations for staff. Countdown's parent company, Woolworths, has announced its vaccine mandate for Australia workers. At that time, a representative from Countdown said staff in New Zealand are not covered by the policy. The Warehouse Group has also begun consulting with staff over a proposal to require them to be fully vaccinated by January 1.

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