Air NZ announces mandatory vaccination for more than 50 per cent of staff – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: September 24, 2021 at 11:26 am

Air New Zealand will require more than half of its full-time staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

In an email sent out on Thursday evening, chief people officer Nikki Dines said about 4000 of Air NZs 7840 full-time employees would be required to vaccinate under the new mandate.

Air NZ proposed expanding its mandatory vaccination policy to all staff who interacted with customers and baggage at the start of the month.

Chief executive Greg Foran said the company did not take the decision lightly.

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Our people have been on the frontline through the pandemic, helping Kiwis get home and keeping goods moving and, as a result, have a greater risk of coming into contact with Covid-19, Foran said.

Foran said that the emergence of the Delta variant had made previous health and safety protocols less effective.

Extensive PPE, isolation and testing have helped protect our people, but we need another layer of protection which the Covid-19 vaccines provide, Foran said.

Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

About half of the 7840 full-time staff at Air NZ will be required to be vaccinated under new company policy.

Foran said that, before the announcement, Air NZ recieved substantive feedback from staff, but ultimately the only option was mandatory vaccination for the bulk of its staff.

In making this decision we have balanced the need to move swiftly to address the increased safety risks created by Delta with the need to thoroughly understand the perspectives of our employees and the unions. We dont underestimate the impact this decision will have on our people, Foran said.

Further information as to which particular Air NZ workgroups would be affected by the decision is expected to be announced on Monday.

Supplied

Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran says the decision was not taken lightly.

E t unions head of aviation, Savage, said the union supported vaccination, but believed the process could have been handled better by the airline.

We felt the process was being rushed unnecessarily, and the timelines were too tight for a company as large and diverse as Air New Zealand, Savage said.

Savage said that the best way for employers to keep their workers safe from harm was to ensure members had access to sound information, and had a voice in decision-making, Savage said.

However, by mid-November, we are hopeful that 90 per cent of all those eligible for vaccination will have received at least their first dose, and that this will lessen the need for internal risk controls at Air New Zealand, Savage said.

More than 80 per cent of all E t members at Air New Zealand are already vaccinated, and the union said that worker support for vaccination is increasing.

The move for mandatory vaccination from Air NZ comes at a time when businesses across the country are being forced to consider the role of mandatory vaccination and workplace safety.

Epidemiologist professor Michael Baker said the mandate to vaccinate in businesses would continue to spread.

The force of vaccine requirements is further than just New Zealand, its a global phenomenon as its going to determine entry into other countries, its going to be a driving factor as to what we can do, Baker said.

Earlier this week an Auckland construction site asked subcontractors who could not provide proof of vaccination to not attend their work sites.

The move prompted unions and industry safety groups to urge companies to be careful when polices around mandatory vaccination.

Under current legislation, vaccinations are not mandatory and employees cannot be dismissed for refusing them.

However the case is different within border organisations, which are subject to the Covid-19 Public Health Response Order requiring frontline workers to be vaccinated.

Some border workers have been fired for refusing to be vaccinated, with one port worker lodging a legal challenge against her dismissal which was dismissed by the Employment Relations Authority.

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Air NZ announces mandatory vaccination for more than 50 per cent of staff - Stuff.co.nz

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