Department of Social Development to decide on mandatory vaccination policy for staff by Christmas

The Ministry of Social Development is wondering if it will require its employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Rebekah Parsons-King/RNZ

The Ministry of Social Development is wondering if it will require its employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Department of Social Development could require its workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with a decision to come by Christmas.

In an email sent to staff on Friday, chief executive Debbie Power said the department’s leadership team wanted their staff to be immunized.

“As we transition to the Covid protection framework (traffic light system) from December 3, we know that we will see an increase in community cases. We therefore carried out a more thorough risk assessment and arrived at this preliminary opinion.

She said consultation on the proposed policy would begin with staff from Monday and a decision should be made before the Christmas holidays.

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Power expected the proposal to be well received by the majority of staff, but acknowledged that not everyone would be happy with it.

They would also consider whether customers and visitors entering ministry sites would be required to produce vaccine passes, the email said.

In a statement, Deputy Chief Executive Melissa Gill said the department was acting in concert with other government agencies and businesses across the country to determine how to ensure the safety and health of its employees.

She said initial feedback from staff had been mostly positive, although some expressed concerns about the policy, which “reflected the wider New Zealand community”.

Staff would also be asked about their thoughts on vaccine requirements for customers, visitors and contractors at ministry sites.

Joel C. Hicks