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Dismissal of an unvaccinated employee was justified: a New Zealand ruling

Written by
Kiely Thompson Caisley, New Zealand’s leading boutique employment law firm.
Authors
Peter Kiely
Peter Kiely
Partner - New Zealand
Kiely Thompson Caisley
Scott Worthy
Scott Worthy
Partner - New Zealand
Kiely Thompson Caisley
Stephanie Bode
Solicitor - New Zealand
Kiely Thompson Caisley
New Zealand
14.09.21
1
The New Zealand Employment Relations Authority has ruled that the Customs Service acted reasonably in dismissing an employee who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Can an employer dismiss an employee for refusing to be vaccinated?

The Employment Relations Authority has issued a determination which addresses this very topical issue. In the case of GF v New Zealand Customs Service, GF’s employment ended after Customs, having regard to its own health and safety risk assessment and a government mandatory vaccination order, determined that the border protection role undertaken by GF required her to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Authority found GF’s dismissal was justified on the basis the role GF undertook required the incumbent to be vaccinated under the mandatory vaccination order. The Authority also found the consultation procedure used by the employer before dismissal was fair and reasonable including consideration of alternatives to dismissal.

We note this determination is highly fact specific but might provide useful guidance for future cases.

To read the full determination, please click here.