Auckland Council has begun consulting on a proposal that would require all its employees, and some others working for Council, to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
This could potentially alter the current policy, which is to “strongly encourage” vaccination. A Council survey found that 91 per cent of the staff who responded had either had their first dose or were fully vaccinated. Another 2.1 per cent said they intended to get vaccinated.
Council’s governance director Phil Wilson says although this policy is about employees, guidance for elected councillors and board members is being developed in parallel so that both can take effect at the same time – from early December.
“In the event that vaccination is required for entry to offices and meeting venues, options for remote attendance will need to be put in place for unvaccinated elected members, because their right to exercise their democratic decision-making role must be respected,” Mr Wilson says.
In the meantime, local board members are being given information regarding vaccination as well as the opportunity to share their own stories or vaccination status on Council communication channels, such as local board Facebook pages.
“This has all been optional but underscored by the Council’s support for everyone who is able to, to be vaccinated,” Mr Wilson says.
Last month, Council suggested that local boards should discuss whether or not to make members’ vaccination status public – for example, Orakei Local Board has posted a photo of members with its local Councillor on its Facebook page with the statement: “We are fully vaccinated for our community.”
Rodney Local Board chair Phelan Pirrie said there had been a general discussion of the policy at a recent workshop. He said he was vaccinated and believed most board members were as well, but it was up to individuals whether they wanted to go public with personal information.
“We’re definitely encouraging members to get vaccinated,” he said. “And when we get back to public meetings, anyone not vaccinated is unlikely to be let in.”
Council will spend two weeks consulting with its staff and expects to have the policy regarding employees and guidance for elected members in effect from December 1.
Update: November 23, 2021. Elected members consider vaccination options
Auckland Council has begun consultation with its 170 elected members on vaccination guidelines.
The proposal is that only those elected members who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be able to come into council offices and meeting spaces. Those who are not vaccinated, or don’t want to disclose their vaccination status, will be asked to work remotely during periods where there is risk of the virus circulating in the community.
When complete, the guidelines will sit alongside a council workforce policy, consulted on during November, that proposes all employees, and a range of others who do work for the council, should be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to safely carry out their roles (HM November 8). This employee vaccination policy is expected to be agreed in early December.
Elected members who are not vaccinated will be supported to work remotely and participate in all meetings and workshops online.
The guidelines will be reviewed every three months but it is anticipated they will be in place as long as required under the Government’s Covid-19 protection framework.
Following the two-week consultation and analysis of the feedback, it is expected the guidelines for elected members will be agreed by 15 December.