NZ businesses prepare to welcome workers back after Christmas break with new COVID protocols in place

Businesses are preparing to welcome workers back on Monday and for many it will be their first time in the office in months.

But it may not be the return to normal employees expect - or would like - with COVID-19 protocols and mandates kicking in.

Christchurch City Council is following many other employers in asking all staff to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"On Monday we are enacting a full mandate policy for vaccination," Christchurch City Council chief executive Dawn Baxendale told Newshub.

More than 50 percent of staff are already double-jabbed, and for those who aren't, there's a transition period.

"If they turn up to work on Monday, we will be asking them to go home and then we will work with them about how they can work from home while we work through what it means for them," Baxendale said. 

Healthcare staff, border workers and teachers must be jabbed to keep their jobs, and First Union expects enforced mandates will see more labour shortages.

"If staff don't comply then they will be given four-weeks notice and will be exiting out of the business," First Union Southern Region secretary Paul Watson told Newshub. 

The New Zealand population is 92 percent double-vaccinated and the working population is 2.8 million people.

"Say we got to 95 percent vaccination rate in the community and that translated across to the business world, then we are talking around 140,000 people who will not be vaccinated in the workforce," Watson said. 

He says it is up to the Government to apply COVID-19 protocols to businesses.

"Government messaging has to be clear, unambiguous and not create interpretations of policies which can create problems for employers," Watson said. 

But workers at places like the Christchurch City Council have learned what they need to do in a COVID-19 landscape.

"Hand washing, mask wearing where appropriate and being able to move around building as we see fit," Baxendale said.

Watch the full story above.