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Provider guidance for all COVID-19 protection settings

Guidance for social services providers and organisations during the COVID-19 Protection Framework or 'traffic light' system.

Government vaccination mandate changes

The Government has updated the sectors where it is mandated that work be done by vaccinated people.

Government vaccination mandates continue to apply for:

  • health and disability sector workers, which includes aged-care workers
  • prison staff
  • border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers.

Government vaccination mandates are no longer in force for:

  • New Zealand Police workers, which includes sworn members, recruits and authorised officers, unless they are working in an environment where a mandate is required
  • New Zealand Defence Force workers, which includes armed forces and civilian staff, unless working in an environment where a mandate is required
  • early childhood and schooling education workers
  • workers at food and drink services, events, close-proximity services and indoor exercise facilities like gyms
  • work at tertiary education premises, which only applied at the Red level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Staff vaccination

Where a government vaccination mandate does not apply, employers may still be able to maintain vaccination requirements for their staff. Any vaccination requirements must continue to be supported by a work health and safety risk assessment, but these circumstances are likely to be more limited than they have in the past.

Assessments should reflect the latest public health information and advice to determine what controls are appropriate in their workplaces, which could include implementing a staff vaccination requirement. Any previously completed assessments should be reviewed to reflect the latest guidance.

Guidance on undertaking a work health and safety assessment is available from WorkSafe New Zealand, including the updated public health advice.

COVID-19 controls at work – WorkSafe

Vaccine passes

My Vaccine Passes are no longer mandatory.

Providers may choose to continue using vaccine passes as a condition of entry to their premises if they would like to. However, it is important to note that vaccine passes cannot be required for clients of some services – non-vaccine pass services.

For social services, there are certain premises where My Vaccine Passes cannot be required for people accessing certain social service premises, including:

  • Kāinga Ora premises or services delivered on premises
  • premises let on behalf of registered community housing providers (as defined in section 2 of the Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992) but only if the tenancy was granted as a tenancy of social housing to a tenant assessed under the Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992 as eligible to be allocated social housing
  • emergency accommodation funded by government agencies
  • premises delivering any health and disability service
  • premises delivering Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) programmes
  • premises delivering other housing or accommodation services funded by government agencies to people in need
  • premises delivering shelter or emergency and temporary housing in a civil defence emergency.

Record-keeping

At any of the traffic light settings, there is no longer a requirement to scan in or for a provider to either:

  • display a QR code
  • have mandatory record keeping.

However, providers may choose to keep records if they would like.

Additional requirements differ depending on the services you provide.

Critical wellbeing services

Social services that deliver critical wellbeing services can open under Red, Orange and Green settings.

These are services:

  • provided under the Oranga Tamariki Act
  • that support people to maintain critical well-being
  • that offer crisis support for people who are unsafe or homeless.

Examples of critical wellbeing services include family violence and sexual violence crisis response services, and welfare support for those self-isolating.

Some critical wellbeing services might provide services in close proximity, but they are not included in the close-proximity services rules. Social services that deliver critical wellbeing services (legally referred to as ‘Specified Social Services’) are excluded from the close-proximity business and service definition.

Staff vaccination

Effective 4 April 2022, the Government vaccination mandates cover only health and disability workers, prison staff and border and MIQ workers.

The health and disability sector vaccination mandate does not apply directly to the social services sector as a whole, unless staff at these organisations need to perform tasks in certain ways in health and disability settings. Check the list of workforces covered by the health and disability sector mandate.

COVID-19: Mandatory vaccinations – Ministry of Health

If providers are unsure whether their workers are covered by the Health Order, they should get a legal professional or a health and safety professional to provide advice for their specific circumstances.

Getting help from health and safety professionals – HASANZ Register

Where a government mandate is not in place, employers may still be able to maintain vaccination requirements, where these continue to be supported by a work health and safety risk assessment, but these circumstances are likely to be more limited than they have in the past.

You can get guidance on undertaking a work health and safety assessment from WorkSafe New Zealand.

COVID-19 controls at work: Employer vaccination requirements – WorkSafe

Vaccine passes

It is optional for vaccine passes to be required for clients at all levels, unless your service is a non-vaccine pass service. These cannot require vaccine passes for clients.

Some factors providers should consider in making this decision may include:

  • your capability or capacity to safely provide services to unvaccinated clients, which may include having different operating models in place at the same time
  • the ability of unvaccinated clients to access that service elsewhere in their area should a vaccine pass be used as a condition of service.
  • the outcome of your updated work health and safety risk assessment under the Health and Safety Act.

Close-proximity services

Close-proximity businesses and services are businesses and services that can’t be undertaken without physical contact, or close proximity, including workers being within 1 metre of clients.

If your service provides critical wellbeing services, please see 'Critical wellbeing services'.

Social service providers or organisations should consider, based on their service model, whether they provide close-proximity services. An example of a close-proximity service may include driving instruction, some OSCAR programmes or transporting service participants.

Vaccine passes

Vaccine passes are no longer required.

Providers should carry out their own risk assessments to ensure their Health and Safety obligations at work are met. Under the Red level setting it is important that providers have systems in place to:

  • ensure face coverings are worn as required
  • comply with 1-metre physical distancing rule
  • mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 to the extent that 1-metre physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Businesses and services must display whether vaccine passes are required.

Staff vaccination

Staff vaccination is no longer required, unless staff are subject to the health and disability mandate.

Social services providers or organisations should carry out risk assessments under the Health and Safety at Work Act to determine whether it is appropriate to require staff to be vaccinated.

Face coverings

Face coverings must be used by workers and clients in indoor public areas under Red and Orange settings.

OSCAR

OSCAR services can open under Red, Orange and Green settings.

Vaccine passes

Vaccine passes for participants is prohibited for all OSCAR services.

Staff vaccination

Please refer to OSCAR subsector guidance

Non close-proximity services

Some services can open under Red, Orange and Green settings. These are services that are not:

  • close-proximity services
  • social services
  • food and drink businesses or services, or gyms.

Examples of non-close-proximity services are counselling services and employment services.

Vaccine passes

It is optional for vaccine passes to be required at all traffic light levels, unless the organisation deems it necessary following a risk assessment.

Staff vaccination

Staff vaccination is not required unless either:

  • they come within the mandate for health and disability workers
  • the organisation has decided staff are required to be vaccinated following a risk assessment under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

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