Supporting staff to become vaccinated

Supporting staff to become vaccinated

 Vaccination remains one of the most effective measures in reducing the impact of COVID-19 and staff should still encourage staff to become vaccinated and be boosted when they become eligible.

Vaccination remains a key tool in minimising the impact of COVID-19 and below is some information on supporting staff to become vaccinated or get boosted.

Can staff have paid time off for COVID-19 vaccinations?

Where possible staff should schedule appointments outside of normal working hours which could include at the end of the school day, during the weekend or during school holidays. 

Where that is not possible, schools should allow adequate paid time off work for staff to get vaccinated during work hours.

No leave of absence should be recorded, and staff should be paid as usual.

School boards are encouraged to consider how best to manage staff absences for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that the school can continue to operate in their absence. 

School boards are already funded for the costs of employing relievers as part of their operational funding and we would expect that, where staff take time off during the school day to be vaccinated, school boards are able to accommodate the costs of within their existing funding sources. 

Supporting staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19

To help schools support their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, schools can claim a reimbursement if they are required to backfill a staff member who requires time off to deal with a side effect of the vaccine (recorded as an adverse effect following immunisation, or AEFI).

Where the conditions set out below are met, reimbursement will be available from day one of the period of absence. The eight-day rule will not apply.

The process for claiming reimbursement for teaching staff will use the standard Additional Relief Teacher Funding (ARTF) request. However, for non-teaching staff you will need to complete a claim form and email it to resourcing@education.govt.nz to claim reimbursement.

Evidence of side effect

We recognise that it can be difficult to provide evidence of a side effect following being vaccinated. However, we encourage staff to report any side effects to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) to support the monitoring and reporting of COVID-19 vaccines and associated adverse reactions. To be eligible for a reimbursement we expect that the school has replaced the staff member who requires time off to deal with a side effect because reimbursement is payable from day one of the absence.

Process for claiming reimbursement

To minimise administration burden we are asking schools to record the discretionary paid leave as DISCR, reason code COV19, on the Novo12 form.

Schools should select the COVID19 box when submitting their claim for a teacher who had time off to deal with a side effect through the Education Resourcing System (ERS).

For non-teaching staff a claim form will have to be manually completed and emailed to resourcing@education.govt.nz. You can access the form here.

In either case schools will be asked to confirm that this claim is a result of a COVID-19 vaccine related absence and that a replacement staff member was employed to avoid the risk of their request being declined.

Audit requirements

Schools are required to retain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence to support a claim for additional funding or staffing absence. The record keeping requirements for this additional relief funding are no different and may be reviewed as part of the annual audit process.

Leave excluded from reimbursement

Discretionary paid leave eligible for reimbursement in this instance does not include where schools allow staff time off during the school day to be vaccinated. In a special bulletin on 9 April, we encouraged school boards to consider how best to manage staff absences for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that the school could continue to operate in their absence.

Where possible staff should schedule appointments outside of normal working hours which could include at the end of the school day, during the weekend or during school holidays.

Further information on staff vaccinations

If a staff member has an adverse reaction requiring time off, will the Ministry reimburse schools to cover these costs?

Schools will be able to claim reimbursement where they incur additional relief costs to backfill a staff member who requires time off to deal with side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccination. The process for claiming reimbursement is explained above.

What payroll code/s should I use for a staff member who has had time off to deal with an adverse reaction?

Schools should record the discretionary paid leave as DISCR for teaching and non-teaching staff, reason code COV19.

Will taking time off to deal with side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccination be deducted from a staff member’s sick leave balance?

No. The expectation is that this leave should be treated a paid special (discretionary) leave and should not be deducted from a staff members sick leave balance.

What are the circumstances under which schools can claim reimbursement where staff have taken time off to deal with a side effect?

We encourage staff to report any side effect to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM). We also expect that the school has replaced the staff member who requires time off to deal with the side effect because reimbursement is payable from day one.

Can I claim reimbursement for teaching and non-teaching staff?

Yes. Schools can make a claim where they have had to replace the staff member during their absence to deal with the side effect. The reimbursement process is outlined above.

Where can I find more information about the process for claiming reimbursement for a staff member that has experienced a side effect following their COVID-19 vaccination?

The process for claiming reimbursement for teaching staff is like an Additional Relief Teacher Funding request (ARTF). Be sure to code the discretionary paid leave as DISCR, reason code COV19, on the Novo12 form, and tick the COVID19 box when submitting a claim through the Education Resourcing System (ERS).

For non-teaching staff you will have to complete a form and email it to resourcing@education.govt.nz to claim reimbursement. You can access the form here

Does the eight-day rule apply?

No. Where conditions are met, schools can claim reimbursement from the first day of the absence.

Are weekends included?

No. Relievers are not required to work in a school over the weekend.

Can I claim reimbursement where I have allowed staff time off during the school day to be vaccinated?

No. School boards are encouraged to consider how best to manage staff absences for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that the school can continue to operate in their absence. Where possible staff should schedule appointments outside of normal working hours which could include at the end of the school day, during the weekend or during school holidays.

School boards are already funded for the costs of employing relievers as part of their operational funding and we would expect that, where staff take time off during the school day to be vaccinated, school boards are able to accommodate the costs of within their existing funding sources.

What happens if a teacher needs four days leave to deal with a side effect in August and then requires six days sick leave, for an unrelated illness, later in the year? Does the eight-day rule apply?

If the teacher had four days off following vaccination against COVID 19 because they experienced an adverse reaction, reported the reaction to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM), and were replaced during this period, the school can claim reimbursement for the four days leave in August. The eight-day rule does not apply to the first period of leave.

The eight-day rule applies from the start of the second period of (six days) sick leave for the unrelated illness.

What are the reimbursement rates for non-teaching staff?

We have determined a standard maximum daily and weekly reimbursement rate.  These are $201.02 and $1,005.10 respectively and include GST.

Will this support be available in future years?

No. Reimbursement will only be able to be claimed for side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccination experienced during the COVID-19 Immunisation Programme. The programme is already underway and is planned to be largely completed before the end of 2021.

Managing staff leave

The following leave provisions are available to schools and kura, including information on how to make claims.

Managing staff leave