No jab, no job? 90% of leaders want law implemented

Auckland businesses have suffered through the lockdowns

No jab, no job? 90% of leaders want law implemented

An overwhelming majority of businesses that took part in Auckland Business Chamber's survey said that they want to implement mandatory workplace vaccinations. The chamber announced that an "overwhelming 90% of small and medium enterprises … endorsed mandatory workplace vaccination."

Talks on mandatory jabs for employees arose after Air New Zealand introduced a "no jab, no fly" policy for international travellers – a rule which will take effect on February 1. The airline also ordered its pilots, cabin crew, and customer-facing employees to roll up their sleeves by November 14. Unlike the airline however, the chamber said other businesses would need clarity and guidance from the government in order to implement such mandates.

"We have received legal advice that businesses could demand their employees are all vaccinated based on the likelihood and consequences of COVID exposure and spread to colleagues, customers and the community," said Michael Barnett, the chamber's chief. "But, unlike Air New Zealand's no jab no international flight rule or no jab no entry for non-citizens, business can't just demand mandatory vaccination without testing it legally and that would be costly and drawn out," he added.

Barnett said it is "reasonable" for employers to require vaccines to employees who are exposed to high risks of contracting the virus.

"No employer wants to be responsible for a community outbreak that could cause serious harm or be fatal," he pointed out.

Read more: Can an employer mandate a COVID test?

Auckland stays at Level 3

Auckland will remain under Alert Level 3, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, while the rest of the nation will stay at Level 2. On Monday, Ardern unveiled a phased "roadmap" that will loosen some restrictions in Auckland, with the first phase beginning on Tuesday. The first phase will see some recreational activities being allowed, as well as limited outdoor catchups. Phase two will see the retail industry reopen, with cafes and food courts inside businesses allowed to operate takeout services. The third part will see a limited opening for hospitality and expand the cap on indoor and outdoor social gatherings. Timeframes for the second and third phases of the roadmap remain unknown.

The Auckland Business Chamber, however, slammed the transition plan, saying it will leave businesses burdened with debt and desperate for revenue.

"If vaccination is the way out of restrictions, then government needs to enable businesses to implement the no jab no job regime, get access to saliva testing and do the right thing as the country’s biggest employer and get all your staff vaccinated at once," Barnett said.

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