Matt Cowley: Covid-19 vaccines should be part of your business plan


As I write this, New Zealand is still in level 4. Hopefully we move out of this lockdown soon but while we’re waiting businesses should be thinking about our next stage: Vaccinations.

Everyone is eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine from September 1. I strongly recommend that vaccinating your workforce is a key priority for your business plan for the rest of the year.

It is a controversial topic but employers should have plans in place to encourage as many staff as possible to get vaccinated.

The world economy is waking up after their lockdown restrictions and they are learning to manage Covid-19 like other existing viruses. While New Zealand’s fortress strategy was great in 2020, we need a new strategy to help us live in a Covid-19 world.

Vaccines will play a big role in making our economy more resilient as we open our borders to reconnect loved ones and allow business people to travel.

Employers will benefit from having a highly vaccinated workforce. Vaccines don’t provide absolute protection but vaccinated people can reduce the risk of serious illness and their chances of spreading it. This means a lower risk of staff being away from work for longer.

Employers cannot force their staff to get the vaccine but they can ensure staff have access to information from credible sources. Employers can make it easier for staff to get vaccinated during work hours, for example by providing transport to centres.

They can also make it easier for staff and their families to get vaccinated together, as the Government has now approved kids aged 12 and older to get the jab.

The topic of vaccines in the workplace is difficult for employers as there are many employee rights that cannot (and should not) be compromised. For instance, having a list of unvaccinated employees posted in the staff room is a bad idea.

There is a lot of quality information for businesses on the Government’s employment website. The Chamber also has news articles from our expert members on tips to communicate with your team and other COVID-related topics.

Lingering lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne are due to people being selfish, as well as their equally low vaccination level to New Zealand.

It is in employers’ best interests that New Zealand increases its vaccine rate so we can all reconnect and our businesses can reconnect with the awakening global economy.

– Matt Cowley is the chief executive of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.

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