The Public Service Commission has put public sector employers including FENZ on notice that they must review vaccination policies and to pause any processes that may lead to the termination of employees due to vaccination status.
Recently the High Court determined a mandatory vaccination Order that only applied to stipulated police and defence force employees was not lawful. The case involved a different order and circumstances to those that apply to our members. However, the Public Service Commission implications of the case goes further and warns state sector employers to review their risk assessment and vaccination policies, and to pause any processes that may lead to termination of employment.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) oversees the performance of state sector organisations – and FENZ would be foolish not to take heed.
The PSC’s recently released guidance (attached) includes the following:
“Whilst the judgment only considered the order relevant to the Defence and Police vaccine mandates, it provides a good reminder that agencies should continue to review the justifications for workplace vaccination policies and especially before key decisions, in reliance on them, are made.”
“At this time, we recommend that agencies review their health and safety risk assessment and vaccination policy in light of the confirmed health advice. Agencies are reminded of consultation expectations associated with the development of risk assessments and polices – see appendix one of the Public Service workforce guidance”.
The Public Service Commission has also stated that the consideration of alternative options now needs to be considered in the current context and has urged pausing any processes that may lead to dismissal.
“Dismissals should only occur after all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted and the rapidly changing nature of the environment will be a relevant consideration as to whether any alternative is reasonable. We therefore recommend that dismissal processes are paused whilst agencies review their health and safety risk assessment and vaccination policy.”
The NZPFU has written to FENZ requiring a genuine and transparent review of the vaccination policies and the pausing of termination processes calling for our affected members to be on special paid leave.
It is the NZPFU’s strong view that the FENZ vaccination policy requiring almost every role to be vaccinated is no longer justified. We are also taking steps to address the application of the mandatory Health Order.