More Canterbury council staff could lose jobs due to Covid-19 vaccine mandate
George Heard / Stuff
Thirteen Environment Canterbury employees were unvaccinated against Covid-19 at the start of March.
More than 40 staff from three Canterbury councils could lose their jobs due to Covid-19 vaccination mandates.
Staff working at Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council or Environment Canterbury must be fully vaccinated. Councils have individual vaccination policies which state that unvaccinated staff could lose their jobs if other arrangements cannot be worked out.
While new advice from the Civil Service Commission says central government departments and agencies should “suspend dismissal processes” for unvaccinated staff and “verify that they relied on the latest health advice before pursue redundancies,” Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury both said redundancy remained a possibility.
Selwyn District Council chief executive David Ward said his council would take time to consider the commission’s advice.
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The city council has already dismissed 14 employees for not respecting the mandate.
Unvaccinated Tri-Council staff will not interact widely with the public, as staff in public facilities, such as libraries or swimming pools, have been subject to a government-mandated vaccination requirement since the introduction of the traffic light system. traffic in December.
Instead, vaccination policies are intended to cover remaining staff who work in generally non-public roles.
A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman said as of March 2, 36 staff were not fully vaccinated, although 10 of those said they intended to receive the necessary shots.
The council, which is the second largest in New Zealand, employs around 2,700 people.
The spokeswoman said the remaining unvaccinated staff were working “in good faith” and all options would be explored.
Unvaccinated staff may be offered additional support to get vaccinated, or there may be changes to their role, such as hours or location of work, depending on the council’s vaccination policy.
Terminating a person’s employment is an option “if no suitable alternative is available,” the policy says.
“This process affects people’s lives, so we need to take the time to work with them,” the spokeswoman said.
At Environment Canterbury, 13 employees had “not yet fully met the vaccination policy requirements” as of March 3, said finance and business services director Giles Southwell. The council employs approximately 800 people.
All members of the management team have been fully vaccinated, Southwell said.
Canterbury’s vaccination policy says unvaccinated employees may be temporarily suspended from pay or allowed to work from home.
The policy notes that working from home permanently is not a feasible option.
Termination of a person’s role would be considered a last resort, according to the policy.
At Selwyn District Council, seven of more than 460 staff were not fully vaccinated, but two of seven were partially vaccinated, a spokesman said.
According to Selwyn’s vaccination policy, the board is offering unvaccinated employees additional support to get vaccinated or considering other “reasonably practicable risk mitigations”.
Termination would occur if no suitable alternative was available, according to the policy.
Meanwhile, Canterbury’s Waimakariri District Council has required all members of the public and all staff entering buildings manned by council staff to have a vaccine pass.
Eight council staff have not provided proof of vaccinations, a spokesperson said, meaning they cannot work from council offices.
The spokesperson said alternative options, such as working from home, were now being considered for those people.
Vaccination warrants have been in the spotlight over the past fortnight, following high-profile anti-warrant protests in Wellington and Christchurch, as well as a High Court ruling that warrants for the police and the Defense Force personnel were illegal.