The end of the COVID-19 Protection Framework and Government vaccination mandates

15 Sep 2022
Author: Andrea Twaddle

The Government has announced that as of Tuesday 13 September 2022, the COVID-19 Protection Framework (also known as the ‘traffic-light system’) will end. Two weeks later, Government vaccination mandates will end. What does this mean for workplaces?

Mask wearing

While mask wearing requirements have been removed, this excludes certain healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, aged care facilities, GPs and pharmacies. Some workplaces may also reasonably ask people to wear masks. However, this will be at their discretion, rather than being a Government requirement. 

Public health advice remains that masks are encouraged in confined spaces and among vulnerable people.

Change in isolation requirements

Individuals who contract COVID-19 are required to isolate for 7 days and wear a facemask in certain healthcare facilities, such as hospitals. Household contacts will be recommended to undertake a daily RAT test but provided it is negative, are able to leave the house and go about their daily lives without restriction, albeit they are encouraged to avoid contact with the person who has COVID-19.

Workplace vaccinations

As of 26 September 2022, it will be at an employer’s discretion as to whether they continue to require workers to be vaccinated. This applies to the health and disability workforce.

Following the court’s decision in Yardley v Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, IOX v QEB and the community transmission of COVID-19, those persons controlling workplaces have been waiting for Government clarity regarding changes to the COVID-19 Protection Framework and vaccination mandates.

As of 4 April 2022, vaccine mandates continued to apply for all health and disability sector workers, which included aged care workers, prison staff and border and MIQ workers. All other sectors (education, events, hospitality, Police and Defence) had Government vaccine mandates lifted.

From 26 September, all workplaces no longer covered by a vaccine mandate must now conduct risk assessments to consider what controls are appropriate. They are no longer able to use Government vaccine mandates to justify taking employment action against unvaccinated workers.

Any risk assessments previously relied on to introduce vaccination policies should be reviewed, taking into consideration the new WorkSafe guidance and revised public health advice. It is likely that employers will only be able to justify a vaccination requirement on the basis of limited health and safety or public health reasons, such as in specific roles where a robust health and safety assessment concludes that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher in the workplace than the community. Employers must consult with their workforce in relation to these assessments. Alternative controls must also be considered alongside vaccination.

Our specialist employment law team are happy to support you with legal and practical advice to navigate the dynamic COVID-19 workplace environment. You can contact us on 07 282 0174, or


Yardley v Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety [2022] NZHC 291
IOX v QEB [2022] NZERA 77

The end of the COVID-19 Protection Framework and Government vaccination mandates
About the Author
Andrea Twaddle
Andrea is an experienced specialist employment lawyer and Director at DTI Lawyers. She advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including privacy, and health and safety matters. Andrea is AWI-CH qualified, and undertakes complex workplace investigations. She is a member of the national Law Society Employment Law Reform Committee, a former Council Member at the WBOP District Branch of the Law Society, and Coordinator of the WBOP Employment Law Committee. Andrea is a sought-after commentator and speaker on employment law issues at client and industry seminars. She provides specialist, strategic advice to other lawyers, professional advisors and leadership teams. You can contact Andrea at