Further to last week’s COVID update, the Playcentre Aotearoa COVID-19 risk assessment and internal vaccination policy have been reviewed in light of the updated Government guidance, and we have formed the preliminary view that mandatory vaccination requirements are no longer justified
As we stated in our COVID-19 Update 1 April 2022, the Government advice is that now Omicron has entered the community, outside of those sectors still covered by Government vaccine mandates (such as the health sector), WorkSafe considers that few workplaces will be able to justify an employer vaccination requirement for health and safety or public health reasons. We do not have the resources necessary to defend a blanket mandate in the face of this advice, and so considering the risk assessment review we have undertaken, there will be no Playcentre Aotearoa blanket requirement for vaccination. Our risk assessment covers not only Covid19 health impacts but all the wider risks under a range of obligations including PCBU liabilities, employment legislation and the funding and reputational risk implications of spending money designed to support our tamariki on expensive legal actions.
The COVID-19 risk assessment for Playcentre Aotearoa is the overarching assessment for all employees and volunteer workers. We have chosen to introduce further mitigations around Mask-wearing within Playcentre which are beyond those specified in the COVID-19 protection framework (see page 11).
The advice we issued on 29th March remains current, specifically:
Playcentre Aotearoa still considers that vaccination is important and that it provides a great form of protection against COVID-19 and for those reasons we are adopting a ‘strongly encourage approach’ that all staff and volunteers should be fully vaccinated, including receiving boosters, if they can and are willing to do so.
The situation we face in April 2022 is different from the one we faced in November 2021. The nature of the threat from Covid19 has changed which means our response and management of COVID-19 as a workplace risk needs to change also. Our core objectives have always been to protect our tamariki, staff, whānau and the communities we serve and we remain committed to those objectives.
Following the removal of the Vaccination Mandate, we now encourage all centres to engage and consult at a local level and to provide feedback on whether the proposal to remove the Vaccination Policy and it’s requirements is appropriate for your local centre whānau and wider community. The process is outlined below along with a link to the Assessment template. If you have further information that is specific to your local centre that you think is relevant to the risk assessment and our proposed decision please contact your Regional Manager by 15 April.
In order to allow the time required to carry out appropriate consultation and not to pre-empt any outcomes, local centres have the option to continue operating within our health and safety plan we had in place prior to 5 April and effectively continue with a vaccine mandate requirement in place. This will be for a temporary period until decisions are made using the evidence based risk assessment and taking into consideration the wider risk profile of our organisation. If any local centres wish to adopt this approach, please contact your Regional Manager so we are aware of the intention and can provide support and advice.
Centres are welcome to complete an additional Risk profile assessment for your community using the MOE Risk assessment for COVID-19. Any additional mitigations need to be proportionate to the situation and level of risk and should not infringe on human rights, privacy or other legislative protections.
Next steps for those centres that wish to consider continuing with a vaccine mandate:
1. Read the Playcentre Aotearoa COVID-19 Risk Assessment
2. Consider the outcomes of this for your centre members and community
3. Complete the MOE Risk assessment for COVID-19 – review the ‘potential risks & consideration’ (p2) and the ‘Health measures’ (p3)
4. Send completed assessment form to your Regional Manager by 15 April.
5. Responses received by 15 April will be considered and centres advised of the outcome.