MHL Covid-19 Vaccination Policy - December 2021
Mahony Horner Lawyers (MHL) seeks to have appropriate COVID-19 controls in place to ensure we uphold the highest standards when it comes to the health, safety and wellbeing of our team and clients, and also to enable us to reduce the risk of an outbreak at MHL.
A Health and Safety Risk Assessment (HSRA) across the firm has shown that higher risk exists in three areas:
- Roles that have direct engagement with sectors that are already covered by the Government’s Covid-19 Public Health Response Order 2021;
- Roles that have direct engagement with a high percentage of people considered high risk (compromising health issues and the elderly);
- Roles that have direct engagement with clients, including meeting clients on site and attending Court and Tribunal hearings.
To reduce the risks of Covid-19 in these areas as much as possible we have consulted with the MHL team and now confirm our decision to require all MHL team members and any clients or other invitees attending MHL premises or an MHL function to be fully vaccinated. This includes our suppliers and contractors. We detail further below the process for ascertaining the vaccination status of those we deal with.
We also require the MHL team members to only meet in person, in a professional capacity, with clients or third parties if we have ascertained that the people we are meeting with are fully vaccinated – wherever the meeting is held. This is subject to our professional and ethical obligations which are referenced in this Policy.
If someone is medically unable to be fully vaccinated, please let your manager know.
If a client or third party you are dealing is not fully vaccinated (including being both unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or not having had recommended booster shot/s), or does not wish to share their vaccination status, then if it is possible to carry out our professional and ethical obligations through remote means (such as arranging an AV meeting through Zoom or similar) we must do so. This includes briefing witnesses and those situations where there are support people present.
This is also the case where you are acting for a client and are unable to ascertain the vaccination status of others who you may be asked to meet with: for example, if it is not possible to ascertain the vaccination status of those present at a multi party Court hearing then it would be appropriate to ask to appear at the hearing by AV link if you are comfortable you can properly discharge your professional obligations through a remote appearance.
The advice shared by the New Zealand Law Society has indicated that the vast majority of our professional and ethical obligations can be met through providing legal services remotely.
We recognise that as lawyers and legal professionals we have ethical obligations which means we may be required to meet with people where we are not clear on their vaccination status. For example, if a Judge requires in person attendance at a Court hearing or an Authority at a mediation.
In these instances, we are required to meet our professional obligations and attend in person whatever the vaccination status of those involved. If this happens then:
- If the engagement is held at a location at the Green traffic light level, please wear masks as required and follow appropriate social distancing for those encounters;
- If the engagement is held at a location at the Orange traffic light level, please follow the Green protocols and discuss with your manager. Depending on the situation we may require you to self-isolate/work from home for a short period after the engagement and self-monitor for Covid symptoms before returning to the MHL office;
- If the engagement is held at a location at the Red traffic light level, please discuss with your manager prior to confirming your attendance. If it is agreed that you must attend, then please follow the Green protocols. We will then require you to self-isolate by working from home while you self-monitor for Covid symptoms before returning to the MHL office no earlier than 5 days after the conclusion of the engagement.
As to how we ascertain the vaccination status of those with whom we will be meeting, the responsibility for raising the issue initially lies with the person making the meeting. When you meet with the person, be it client, supplier or third party then it is for the MHL team member meeting with them to ask to see their My Vaccine Pass – we are not requiring the pass to be scanned at this stage.
As always, we take the privacy of our team, clients, and suppliers seriously. The vaccination status of individuals and any other personal or health information that MHL receives as part of this process will be held securely and managed in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020 and the Health Information Privacy Code 2020.
For anyone visiting our office we ask that t the Government Covid-19 safety protocols and mandates aligned with the relevant Covid-19 Protection Framework Alert Level applicable at the time are followed, such as maintaining social distancing, the use of masks indoors, contact tracing and other hygiene measures such as staying home if you are unwell.
We will continue to review and likely evolve our approach, to meet Government guidelines and operational best practice. The protocols we have put in place are designed to protect our MHL team in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines and our own Health and Safety principles. Our priority is keeping us all safe while recognising our professional and ethical obligations.