Our inspectors, trainee inspectors, and authorised officers are authorised by the Director-General of Health to be COVID-19 enforcement officers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 (COVID-19 legislation) and its Orders. Their role is to enforce COVID-19 legislation requirements for work and workplaces. We have updated our enforcement approach to cover the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system).
We are more likely to take enforcement action for a COVID-19 matter under COVID-19 legislation rather than the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). However, this depends on the nature of the breach.
Our inspectors take an education-first approach. They:
- can help you understand what you must do to meet COVID-19 legislation requirements
- can give you the chance to make changes and ‘do the right thing’, and
- may act against you if those changes aren't made.
Our approach to My Vaccine Pass
Under current traffic light settings, the Government no longer requires My Vaccine Pass to be used to access businesses, events, and services.
We expect you to meet the any applicable COVID-19 requirements for operating under the My Vaccine Pass rule (external link)should the Government change its settings.
Businesses can still choose to require My Vaccine Pass as a condition of entry if, having engaged with workers to undertake a health and safety risk assessment, they identify sound health and safety reasons for doing so, and the current rules don’t prevent it.
Regardless of whether My Vaccine Pass is used in your workplace, we expect you to have other controls in place to manage identified risks. This may include encouraging workers to be vaccinate and using infectious disease controls(external link).
Complying with HSWA in the COVID-19 pandemic
We want to provide more certainty about how to meet our expectations for complying with HSWA when managing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work. There are three steps you need to follow.
- Comply with all COVID-19 legislation requirements that apply to your business or service. COVID-19 legislation(external link) sets out what you must do to manage the risk that COVID-19 spreads at work. We consider it is reasonably practicable for you to comply with these legal requirements as part of your primary duty of care(external link) under HSWA.
- Use public health guidance to help you control the risk of COVID-19 infection at work. The Ministry of Health has guidance about what you can do to reduce the risk that COVID-19 spreads(external link) at your business or service. This guidance is updated whenever public health experts learn more about the virus.
- Keep up to date as the pandemic develops. The pace of change in the COVID-19 pandemic is much faster than typical risks to work health and safety. It’s important you stay informed about any developments that may have an impact on your business or service. Unite Against COVID-19(external link) has the latest information about the pandemic.
Continue to reassess the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work and the controls you have in place to manage the risk. Make sure you consult with your workers and their representatives on this. We have general information about identifying, assessing, and managing risk.
We consider these three steps are enough for most businesses and services to meet HSWA’s primary duty of care in relation to COVID-19.
We expect some businesses and services to do more. These are businesses and services that carry out work that must be performed by a vaccinated worker. The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021(external link) specifies who those workers are.
We expect these businesses and services to:
- comply with all relevant COVID-19 legislation requirements
- have the appropriate infectious disease controls and management systems in place to reduce the likelihood of their workers being infected by COVID-19, and
- notify us if a worker contracts COVID-19 and work activities are a significant contributing factor to their infection.
We are unlikely to intervene in an individual case of work-related COVID-19. However, we may intervene if a business or service has a cluster of work-related COVID-19 cases that indicate risks aren’t being managed effectively.