With COVID-19 there may seem like an outpour of information that is changing rapidly.

Here are the key points for employers: 

Wage Extension

If you have the Wage Subsidy, you may also qualify for the extension. This can be applied for from 10 June only once your Wage Subsidy has ended. The only other criteria that are substantially different is the financial loss will now be 50%

Wage Subsidy

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week

  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.

Employers must make best endeavours to pay employees 80% of their normal income.

To qualify:

  • the business is registered and operating in New Zealand

  • employees are legally working in New Zealand

  • the business has experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19. There are special rules for new businesses and high-growth firms

  • the business has taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19

  • the business must retain covered employees in employment for the period of the subsidy.

Essential Workers Leave Payment Scheme

If your business needs help to pay essential workers who need to take leave due to COVID-19 Public Health guidance it could be eligible for the Essential Workers Leave Payment Scheme. This scheme subsidises eligible businesses and allows them to pay workers who need to take because the Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home, and they can't work from home.

The scheme offers the same rates as the Wage Subsidy Scheme of $585.80 per week full-time workers and $350.00 per week for part-time workers.

Leave interface

COVID-19 has not removed the obligation on the employer under the Holidays Act. 

Employment Relations Act

Likewise, the ERA still applies in its entirety. Employers cannot unilaterally change employees terms and conditions of employment regardless if the employee is able to work or not during the lockdown. If you need to change (long term or short term) an employees hours of work, their remuneration, how they work and where that differs to their terms and conditions you can agree with each other to mutual vary those terms. Without a variation of agreement, an employer may need to restructure and consult fairly with each employee who is affected to get their feedback before making a decision. 

COVID-19, as of 21 May 2020