COVID-19: Police Association wants unvaccinated cops back on the job after court ruling on mandates


The Police Association says officers who lost their jobs should be allowed to return to work after a High Court Ruling quashed a Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

And a lawyer says the ruling has implications for other employers.

Yesterday the High Court upheld claims that the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for police and defence force staff breached their rights under the Bill of Rights Act.

The court has quashed the order, which required them to have had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by 1 March.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said those officers stood down because of the mandate should be allowed back on the job.

"Across stand-downs, resignations and leave without pay it's approximately 131 officers, so we'll be really pleased if we can get all those back into policing and back on the street where they're needed."

Cahill said a parallel policy covering unvaccinated non-sworn staff should also be dropped so they can go back to work too.

Olivia Lund, a partner with the law firm Duncan Cotterill, said other blanket mandates are now at greater risk of being challenged, and employers should periodically review their approach to make sure it's effective and proportionate.

"I think it's going to be difficult as time goes on for an employer to justify that an unvaccinated worker materially increases the risk of Covid in the workplace, when it is in the community."

Lund said rapid antigen testing could serve as an alternative to firing someone who is not vaccinated.

Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis said it was important to remember that the court ruling had not raised questions about other anti-Covid-19 policies.

The vaccine mandate for police and defence force staff had been introduced with the intent to protect continuity of service for the police and defence force, it had not specifically been set for public health reasons.

The court found that was not a proper justification.

However, Geddis said: "Wider questions about whether mandates are needed for public health purposes to stop the spread of Covid aren't answered by this case - so it shouldn't be read as casting any doubt over whether mandates and vaccines are important to stop Covid."

Geddis said the judge was careful to note that vaccination significantly improves the prospects of avoiding serious illness and death.