As Omicron is now present in the New Zealand community, rapid COVID-19 testing kits and PCR tests will soon become the norm. The question is, whether an employer can require employees to present a negative COVID-19 test before entering the workplace.
For some types of work regular testing for COVID-19 is mandatory, such as border workers.
In other industries employers will need to demonstrate that COVID-19 testing is a reasonably practical step as part of maintaining health and safety in the workplace.
Testing is not deemed a medical treatment unlike vaccination and Courts have justified other forms of testing such as drug testing. A COVID-19 test would likely be easier to justify than mandating a role be undertaken by a vaccinated worker.
We recommend employers consult with their employees to assess whether a COVID-19 testing regime is justified. Any testing would also need to comply with the Privacy Act 2020 to ensure collection of the information is used only for the purpose for which it was collected and ensure it is stored securely.
If you are an employer or employee who has further questions on COVID-19 testing or any vaccination policy, please contact our employment team.