Vaccine Mandate Relief Support Scheme

Vaccine Mandate Relief Support Scheme

This is a guide to the Vaccine Mandate Relief Support Scheme (VMRSS), explaining which schools are eligible, for which staffing, and for what time period.

The Vaccine Mandate came into effect on 14 November 2021, requiring staff working at schools to be vaccinated. If a staff member chose to not be vaccinated, then the school may have needed to work through the employment process with them. In some cases, the unvaccinated staff member may have had their employment terminated.

Terminated staff members are entitled to a paid notice period (varying between four to eight weeks, depending on the role). As the terminated staff could not work in the school once the vaccine mandate came into effect, schools may have needed to hire relief staff to cover the paid notice period.

The Vaccine Mandate Relief Support Scheme contributes towards the additional costs of hiring of relief staff for the paid notice period of those staff whose employment had been terminated due to non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As such, the funding is retrospective and is only available for relief staff employed during Term 4 2021 (18 October to 20 December 2021). It is only available to state and state-integrated schools.

Eligibility for the scheme

To be eligible for funding, your school must meet the following criteria:

  • The school must have entered an employment process which has resulted in termination of employment due to non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • The school must have incurred actual additional relief teacher costs i.e. a reliever was hired during the staff member’s employment process, or during the terminated employee’s paid notice period.
  • This fund will only provide support while boards worked through an employment process, or during the notice period, which is up to 4 weeks for non-teaching staff or up to 8 weeks for teaching staff.
  • The affected staff must fit into one of the following 7 categories: principals, teachers, teacher aides, relief teachers and casual staff, caretakers and cleaners or administration staff.
  • The cost is not related to contractors and other tradespeople, service managers, caregivers, and other staff. It is considered these positions will be replaced on a contractual basis and therefore do not require inclusion for backfill of costs to employ relief staff; or may be volunteer staff members thereby negating the school incurring any costs; and 
  • The cost must have been incurred between the dates of 18 October 2021 and 20 December 2021.
  • If the paid notice period took place while the school was closed, no funded relief cover would be available.

Applying for the scheme

To apply for this funding, please go to the Ministry of Education page Forms for resourcing to download an application form. Applications must be received by 10 June 2022. 

Please note, as applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis eligibility cannot be confirmed prior to an application being submitted. 

If you have any questions or concerns relating to this, please contact our Resourcing Team for further assistance at resourcing@education.govt.nz.

Frequently asked questions

Are private schools eligible for the scheme?

No, it is only available to state and state-integrated schools.

Why is the scheme limited to Term Four 2021? What if staff refuse to get the booster vaccine before the cut-off date and we must terminate them during Term One 2022?  

The scheme is limited to Term Four because schools were expected to take necessary measures to comply with the government regulations in the new academic year. Employment terminations that have occurred in Term One 2022 will still be looked at on a case-by-case.

How do we apply for more than one relief staff role?

Schools only need to apply once. The application form can accommodate multiple staff members. If the unvaccinated staff member’s absence has been covered by more than one staff member, please specify the dates (for teaching staff) and the hours (for non-teaching) for each relieving staff member as well as identifying which staff member they are relieving.

Can we apply now?

Yes, applications are open until 10 June 2022.

Can we apply for VMRSS support for those unvaccinated staff who were on Sick Leave?

No, support under the Vaccine Mandate Relief Support Scheme only applies once the board has entered an employment process with a staff member, or during the paid notice period where employment of a staff member has been terminated.

You may be able to apply for additional relief teacher funding (ARTF) where an affected teacher is on sick leave and has provided the necessary documentation. More information is available here: Additional relief funding for Term 1, 2022 | Te Mahau.

Where can I see the staffing for teaching staff VMRSS support?

The staffing will appear as a part of the TOTAL column on your school’s Banking Staffing report. You will not be able to see the staffing under the relevant pay period as we are currently in the Balancing Period.

How does VMRSS affect banking staffing?

For teachers and principals, the VMRSS is provided as Special Reasons staffing. Special Reasons Staffing is intended to offset any banking staffing overuse, which has resulted from an event outside of the school’s control. It is designed to assist a school in achieving a nil balance - boards in receipt of special reasons staffing will have the balance of any underused staffing offset by the special reasons staffing before any reimbursement is made.

More information about the banking staffing process can be found here:

Banking staffing – Education in New Zealand