Can your employer give you an ultimatum – the jab or your job?

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act

Employers cannot force medication or any kind of medical choice onto staff.  If they do, they’re breaching the NZ Bill of Rights Act.

the right to decline

As an employee, you have the personal right to refuse (or decline) on a number of fronts – all of which are 100% legal.  They are:

  • personal choice,
  • health,
  • beliefs or religion,

justification and process


When it comes to “justification” – they’re looking at:

  • Is the Employer reasonably justified in taking the action they have?
  • Is the Employee reasonably justified in the action they took?

To defend their justification, they’ll have to look at the potential risks faced in the circumstances.


A recent parallel in Australia – the Fair Work commissioner, upheld an Employer’s decision to terminate a childcare centre’s worker for refusing a flu jab. The justification was they had the right and justification to protect the children in their care.

Arvida Group, a large NZ aged care provider, has recently said all new employees would need to consent to vaccination against Covid-19, as well as the flu.  This of course is easier to mandate for all new hires and to make it a condition of employment – it would be more difficult for existing staff.


But what about “process”:   With this a court will look at:

  • Has there been a fair process followed?
  • Have the parties had full access to all information?
  • Have the parties acted in good faith?
  • Have all the options and alternatives been explored thoroughly?

Employers will find this much easier to roll out as a policy – or not – after consultation with staff.  So if you’re thinking of creating a vaccine policy now is a good time to start that process.

It’s important to keep in mind that with any roll out of a new policy is that they should be justified, and created and implemented in consultation with staff.

Full show notes

You can find the full show notes for episode 14 of Paws Claws & Wet Noses here.


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