Alternatives for Workplace Vaccine Mandates - RATs and P2 Masks

March 1st, 2022 - Barbara Buckett

RATs in the workplace – Another Reasonable Step

Employers may have to consider this before dismissal is justified in the ever-changing covid world, making rapid antigen tests and masks available as alternatives to vaccinations.

Recent decisions at the High Court are highlighting the importance for employers to ensure that before making any decision that could negatively impact on an employee such as dismissal, they may need to now factor in other options such as RATs as being an option a fair and reasonable employer could consider. 

Given the highly transmissible nature of Omicron, and the upcoming introduction of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to the community, there could be a shift in the science about whether vaccinations mandates, and “no jab, no job” policies by employers where mandates are still relevant or justified.  

The question employers need to consider especially carefully if they are wanting to avoid personal grievances for unjustified dismissals, is whether any measure they take in terms of an employee will remain justifiable on the basis that it contributes to addressing the spread of the virus and mitigating risk of to health and safety and business concerns. This is more poignant in light of the virus spread being endemic with case numbers now regularly reaching over 14,000 per day, and the soon public availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).  

Emma Wooster, the corporate affairs manager at Foodstuffs NZ has confirmed that RAT’s will be available to be sold to general members of the public from their stores such as Pak’NSave, New World and Four-Square stores as early as next week.Seen here.

Decisions still need to be made on a case-by-case basis in good faith according to the circumstances and in the employment context the overriding consideration is keeping the employment relationship alive by exhausting all options before lowering the boom. 

In this new rapidly changing climate RATs with masks may now be the new black to addressing business health and employment issues.

Further given the view that there will be a peak and a decline employers may be now fools to rush in and dismiss. Certainly, the recent decision of the high court has somewhat poured water on Defence and the Police in their rapid move to dismiss in reliance on the mandate. Whether that decision will have flow on effects or be narrowly interpreted as other commentators have said is also yet to be tested

The Takeaway

What is for certain is that is nothing is certain in the world of Omicron. The Ministry of health today announced the availability of Novavax so still the options keep appearing. Don’t get caught out stay up with the play.

Please contact Buckett Law for advice and assistance on how this effects you.


WXN v Auckland International Airport Ltd 

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

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Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

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