New Zealand’s largest insurer, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), will make covid vaccinations compulsory for most of its 3,500 New Zealand employees.

IAG NZ chief executive Amanda Whiting said the vaccination policy is being introduced as part of a range of pandemic-related health and safety measures for employees who work from IAG offices or its outside locations.

Whiting said the edict will also require its business partners, including bank and broker staff, to be vaccinated before heading into IAG offices. The measures will kick in once IAG offices move to orange ‘traffic light’ settings, she said.

IAG’s insurance brands include AMI, State, NAC, NZI, Lumley and Lantern and it underwrites general insurance for ASB, BNZ, Westpac and Co-operative Bank. 

The firm’s New South Wales and Victoria employees are already required under state law to be double vaccinated to enter their offices. IAG employs 13,500 employees across the two countries.

The move comes as a raft of businesses, including commercial law firm Russell McVeagh, professional services group PwC, Air New Zealand and Mediaworks, restrict their premises to staff and visitors who are double vaccinated. 

On Tuesday, the government announced it will extend vaccination mandates to all staff at businesses that require visitors and customers to prove they are vaccinated. 

Whiting said the insurer had not only adhered to government restrictions, but in many cases “gone above and beyond” to provide people, partners and customers with additional protections.

The firm has paid its staff a ‘wellness day’ this year, as well as two additional paid half-days leave to receive covid vaccinations.  

Most want vaccinations

Employers and Manufacturers Association head of advocacy Alan McDonald said the “vast majority” of its members are in favour of mandatory vaccinations in the workplace.

McDonald said clear guidance and a legal framework is now urgent, particularly for smaller businesses who don’t want to be on the hook for decisions of this nature and risk employment issues.

Yet, a BusinessDesk email survey of NZ’s biggest employers suggests very few organisations have a steer on how many of their staff are vaccinated. 

Of the 112 companies surveyed, only a handful indicated they were actively measuring staff vaccination levels. Some, like Steel & Tube, which employs 850 staff and The Warehouse Group, which employs 12,000, are paying cash incentives. 

Only one company, Tetrapak, disclosed its current staff vaccination rate – in this case, 73% of its 250 employees through Auckland and Waikato.

State-owned enterprises have also been slow to build up a picture of which of their staff have been jabbed, with neither KiwiRail nor NZ Post able to provide any detail as to its vaccine count.

KiwiRail general manager zero harm Sacha Montgomery said while the organisation didn't have a vaccination policy in place it "strongly encourages all members of its team to vaccinate".

She also said it hadn't collected any data on how many of its 4,200 workers have either been partially or fully vaccinated, because it is "changing rapidly".

This is despite KiwiRail having to stand down 15 workers after a positive delta case at its Southdown container terminal on Oct 16.