MANDATORY COVID VACCINATIONS IN THE EARLY LEARNING SECTOR
A Public Health Order has been issued which requires mandatory vaccinations for all employees, volunteers, and contractors (kaimahi) that are onsite while tamariki are present.
The Order requires all kaimahi to have their first vaccination on or by 15 November, and their second dose by 1 January 2022.
Kōhanga Reo will need to maintain a register of vaccinated kaimahi and ensure only vaccinated kaimahi and support people have contact with tamariki. This register will be available in Edge.
The Order includes whānau awhi, kaumātua, kuia, whānau committee members, ākonga, administrators, maintenance kaimahi and contractors who are onsite while tamariki are present.
All kaimahi, including those who are fully vaccinated, in Tamaki Makaurau and other Alert Level 3 regions will be required to return a negative COVID-19 test result before they can return to work onsite.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Q1. Who needs to be vaccinated in our Kōhanga Reo?
- All kaimahi, including volunteers, that have regular contact with tamariki, must be fully vaccinated. Kaimahi must have their first COVID-19 vaccination before 15 November 2021, and their second dose before 1 January 2022.
The Kōhanga Reo is required to maintain a register of vaccinated kaimahi in Edge. The dates of the first and second dose must be entered into Edge alongside evidence of the person’s vaccination status. COVID-19 vaccination certificates will be the only acceptable evidence once implemented by the government at the end of November 2021.
Q2. What if I am not vaccinated?
- All kaimahi must have their first COVID-19 vaccination by 15 November.
In Alert level 3 areas, all kaimahi, including those who are fully vaccinated, must return an initial negative COVID-19 test. Partially vaccinated kaimahi are required to COVID-19 test every seven days until they are fully vaccinated. NB: This only applies to regions at Alert Level 3.
This testing is called surveillance testing and is performed to monitor the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community while at Alert Level 3.
Kōhanga Reo must maintain a register of weekly test results in Edge. We will provide updated information when it is available.
The consequence for kaimahi who do not comply with mandatory weekly tests or vaccinations may include a change of duties, if practicable, or termination of employment.
Q3. What if I can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons?
- A small number of people may not be able to be vaccinated for medical reasons. Current information is that there will be very few people in this situation.
If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and have a medical certificate to support this, then you should discuss with your employer the possibility of alternative working arrangements. This may include offsite duties that can be managed without risk of transmission, if practicable.
The Kōhanga Reo whānau will need to determine whether any alternative options are available, and assess whether the health and safety risk to you and others is manageable.
Q4. Are kaimahi required to show proof of a vaccination exemption?
- Aē, Vaccine exemptions will only be available through qualified medical practitioners and issued under a limited number of circumstances. You will need to provide your employer with evidence of this from a registered medical specialist.
From 15 November 2021, kaimahi must provide proof of their exemption status, which will be stored in Edge. Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust kaimahi will be able to access this data for compliance purposes only.
Q5. Who is responsible for issuing exemptions for the vaccination requirements?
- The government are working to release advice relating to the vaccination exemption programme. Updated information will be provided when available.
Q6. Can kaimahi choose not to be vaccinated but undergo regular testing instead?
- Kāo. All kaimahi who perform work covered by the Public Health Order must have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 15 November 2021, and in alert level 3 regions, undergo regular testing until they are fully vaccinated (no later than 1 January 2022).
Kaimahi who choose not to be vaccinated may have their duties reassigned, or their employment may be terminated.
Q7. How do kaimahi prove their vaccination status?
- Anyone aged 16 and over can access a record of their COVID-19 vaccinations via My Covid Record.
The records include details of your vaccination(s) date, time, location, and batch number. You will need to register and create an account to access these records.
You can also request proof of your vaccination here.
At the end of November 2021, you will be able to download your vaccination certificate on the My Covid Record website. These certificates will be the only acceptable proof of vaccination status and must be uploaded into Edge.
Q8. Will I lose my job if I am not vaccinated?
- If there are no alternative working arrangements available, the Kōhanga Reo whānau may trigger the General Termination Clause of your Employment Agreement, which will result in your employment being terminated.
Q9. Am I required to isolate while awaiting the results of a regular surveillance test?
- Kāo, you are not required to self-isolate while awaiting a surveillance test result. However, you are required to self-isolate if you are tested because you have COVID-19 symptoms.
Q10. Are ākonga required to be vaccinated?
- All ākonga working in Kōhanga Reo, that have regular contact with mokopuna, must be vaccinated. Those eligible for a medical exemption should refer to questions 3, 4 and 5.
Q10. Do parents and caregivers need to be vaccinated?
- Parents and caregivers who regularly spend time in Kōhanga Reo while tamariki are present must be vaccinated. Parents or caregivers who are only dropping off or picking up their tamariki do not need to show you their vaccination status. Masks must be worn when picking up and dropping off tamariki.
Q11. Are volunteers (parents, ākonga, kaumātua) required to show proof of their vaccination status and will this be stored in Edge?
- Aē, all kaimahi and support people spending time with tamariki in Kōhanga Reo must be vaccinated and show proof of their vaccine certificate, which must be stored in Edge.
Q12. Are masks required as well?
- Kaimahi are encouraged in all alert levels to wear masks during drop off and pick up, but there is no requirement to wear a facemask while in Kōhanga Reo.
Q13. Are fully vaccinated kaimahi required to wear masks too?
- Facemasks are encouraged during drop off and pick up, regardless of vaccination status, as they provide an extra level of protection. However, facemasks are not required while working in the Kōhanga.
Q14. Is there any evidence that the vaccine is safe?
- Two weeks after a second dose, fully vaccinated people are 95% protected from COVID-19. This massively reduces the chances that you will contract COVID-19 and pass it on to others. If you do contract the virus, you are unlikely to develop severe symptoms which require hospitalization. You can read more here: https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19-vaccines/get-the-facts-about-covid-19-vaccination/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-pfizer-vaccine/
Q15. Will there be training on how to maintain the kaimahi vaccine register in Edge?
- Aē. The Trust will work with Edge to develop a YouTube video and how-to guide. Online training will also be made available to support Kōhanga Reo kaimahi who may require additional support.
Q16. What are the potential consequences if a Kōhanga Reo fails to comply with the Order?
- Kōhanga Reo in breach of the health order could have their license suspended resulting in immediate closure until the issues are addressed.
Q17. Is this Public Health Order a breach of my Human Rights?
- Kāo. Every person has the right to choose not to be vaccinated but the consequence is a limitation of employment.
For more information on Human rights in relation to covid, visit: https://www.hrc.co.nz/resources/human-rights-relation-covid-19/
Q18. Will my COVID vaccine status and other private information be stored responsibly?
- Aē. All data held in Edge is stored in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020. Only relevant users with approved permission can view these records within the Kōhanga Reo.
Trust kaimahi will only access the data for licensing and compliance purpose. Edge will not access the data unless contacted by the Kōhanga Reo for assistance with updating COVID records.
Q19. If I have chosen not to be vaccinated, and no other working arrangements can be made, when will my termination take effect from?
- The Employer may terminate employment by providing at least 2 weeks’ notice in writing to the Employee (refer to your Employment Agreement).
Q20. What about my notice period, and will all eligible leave entitlements be provided upon termination of employment?
- The Employer may pay the Employee in lieu of some or all of the notice period.
All eligible leave entitlements will be paid on termination of employment.
Q21. Is the Health Order legal?
- Āe. Section 9 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 authorises the responsible Minister (currently Hon Chris Hipkins) to make a COVID-19 Order for mandatory testing and vaccination of employee groups.
Q22. Is providing evidence of my vaccination statusa breach of the Privacy Act/Bill of Rights?
- The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 allows exemptions in respect of broader public health concerns. The orders also provide an over-ruling authority for the employer to require evidence of your vaccination status.
While the mandate does not require you to be vaccinated, it puts a requirement on your employer to ensure that you be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022 if you are to continue to be allowed to work on-site with mokopuna. To do this you must have had your first vaccination by 15 November.
Q23. What happens if I don’t want to tell my employer if I am vaccinated?
- The Public Health Order (PHO) overrides the Privacy Act.
Under the Public Health Orders, you would have to reveal your vaccination status, but the employer must keep this information confidential. It is an offence under the PHO to refuse to provide the information.
If you refuse to provide your status your employer must assume that you are unvaccinated, and your employment may be terminated.
Q24. What if I get vaccinated after 15 November?
- For kaimahi (in regular contact with mokopuna):
- From 15 November 2021, if you are in level 2, you cannot work on-site unless you have had at least one vaccination.
- If you have your first vaccination after 15 November, you can return to onsite work from the date you have your first vaccination.
- Similarly, if you have not had your second vaccination by 1 January 2022, you will not be able to work on-site until you have received the second dose.
- If you receive your second vaccination after 1 January 2022, you can return to work onsite from the date you have your second vaccination.
It will be up to your employer to determine what leave provisions may apply under these situations.
Currently, if you are in level 3, you can continue to be on-site if you provide weekly evidence of a negative COVID test. This decision may change.
Q25. What does fully vaccinated mean?
- Fully vaccinated means you have received two doses of the Covid vaccine.
Q26. What does fully immunised mean?
- You are considered fully immunised two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Covid vaccine.
Q27. What if it is my personal choice not to be vaccinated?
- You continue to have that choice. However, all kaimahi in regular contact with mokopuna, will be required to have a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 15 November 2021 to be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.
If you are not fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022 your employer cannot allow you on-site. In such circumstances, your employer may terminate your employment.
Q28. Who determines whether any alternative working arrangements are available to me?
- The Kōhanga Reo Whānau will determine if a role can be undertaken away from the mokopuna/whānau/others. The whānau must undertake an assessment as to whether the role requires the kaimahi to be vaccinated.
There has been a lot of kōrero about the rights of an individual to make choices for themselves which should be respected. However, when we look to te ao Māori tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake, they do not necessarily translate to individual benefit, but refer instead to a collective benefit. By exercising your mana motuhake for the benefit of the collective, you will find tino rangatiratanga. These actions allow us to be who we are by protecting our whakapapa.
Update - Friday. 29 October 2021 - New Public Health Order information added