Spark moving toward mandatory vaccination

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 5 Nov 2021, 4:11PM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Spark moving toward mandatory vaccination

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 5 Nov 2021, 4:11PM

Spark is considering the mandatory vaccination of "essential services" and retail staff and others not able to perform their roles remotely, chairwoman Justine Smyth told shareholders at the telco's annual meeting this afternoon.

The telco has been asked if staff who refuse the jab - assuming the programme ultimately goes head - will be stood down or offered another role in the company.

"We strongly support the Government's vaccination program and will continue to do whatever we can to encourage our people to participate," Smyth said.

"We have completed a thorough health and safety risk assessment across our business, to understand the risk profile of our different working environments. This assessment has shown we have higher risks of Covid in some areas of our business, such as our retail teams and our essential services teams, who are not able to perform their roles remotely.

"We are currently consulting with these teams on moving to a requirement for
these roles to be vaccinated."

Smyth added, "High vaccination rates are critical to protect the health and safety of our people, partners, and customers; to avoid an outbreak impacting our ability to deliver essential services to New Zealand; and to support Aotearoa's recovery from the pandemic."

A spokesman for Spark rival Vodafone NZ said, "We understand the approach being taken by other companies regarding mandatory vaccinations. We are still in the process of working through the health-and-safety assessments to understand the change in risk profiles. We are also continuing to strongly encourage vaccination amongst our people through a wide range of measures."

In her address to the AGM, chief executive Jolie Hodson underlined that the pandemic - and particularly the Delta lockdowns - made forecasting difficult, but the company made no adjustment to the guidance given at its full-year result briefing (when it projected Ebitda - reported at $1.124b for FY2021 - to come in between $1.130b and $1.160b for FY2022, while the full-year dividend would remain at 25 cents per share).

"New Zealand's economy fared better than expected during the year, when we saw GDP return to growth, consumer spending increase, and unemployment hit all-time lows," Hodson said.

"Since that time, Covid has once again thrown us a curveball, triggered by the arrival of the Delta variant on our shores. It remains to be seen how our economy will recover from our latest lockdowns, with Auckland now in its 11th week of some of the toughest restrictions in the world."

At its full-year results briefing on August 5, Spark pinned a $38m fall in net profit on the pandemic, with border restrictions crimping roaming revenue and hitting the broadband market as population growth slowed as immigration dried up.

Spark shares were up 0.44 per cent to $4.56 on mid-afternoon trading on the NZX.

The stock is down 1.51 per cent for the year.