Government Wage Subsidy
Although we are now in Alert Level 3 and some employees can return to work, there may still be those who cannot, for whatever reason related to COVID-19.
Under Alert Levels 3 and 4, people must work from home where they can (and be paid normally).
Employers and employees will need to discuss whether work can be done from home. At Alert Level 4, only essential services are allowed to operate outside the home.
Workplaces allowed to open must operate safely – complying with the alert level settings, meeting appropriate public health requirements, and fulfilling their other health and safety obligations. Employers and employees need to talk about any changes in work arrangements, leave and pay, or health and safety measures.
Businesses may be eligible for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy scheme. The Wage Subsidy helps businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 to keep employees connected to the workplace.
All businesses, including those using the Wage Subsidy Scheme, must follow legal requirements when making decisions about hours of work, rate of pay. They cannot unlawfully require or compel employees to use their leave entitlements.
The Wage Subsidy Scheme:
- supports employers adversely affected by COVID-19, so that they can continue to pay their employees, and
- supports workers to ensure they continue to receive an income and stay connected to their employer, even if they are unable to work.
The Wage Subsidy Scheme is available to all businesses (including the self-employed, contractors and sole traders), registered charities, incorporated societies and post–settlement governance entities that are adversely affected by COVID-19. It is also available to employers who recently let employees go because of COVID-19, provided they re-hire those employees.
The scheme excludes state sector organisations.
At each Alert Level, employers and employees should first discuss whether the employee can work normally, how much work is available, and how to work safely at home or at their usual place of work.
If the employee cannot work normally, e.g. their normal number of hours, the employer and employee should discuss what options are available.
Some options available are:
|Employee is:||Leave entitlements for employee||Pay entitlements|
|Employee is working:|
At the workplace
|Not applicable as they continue to work.||Employee should be paid, as normal, for each and every hour that they work.|
|Employee is on annual leave||Employees can use their existing entitlements.|
Employees can agree to take annual leave in advance, but they cannot be compelled to do so.
|Leave paid in accordance with the Holidays Act.|
|Employee is sick, or caring for a dependent who is sick||Employees can use their existing sick leave entitlements. If paid sick leave is not available, paid special leave should be considered. An employer and employee may agree that other leave is taken.||Leave paid in accordance with the Holidays Act.|
|Employee is not at workplace, cannot work from home, and is not sick||Employer and employee should consult their employment agreement and discuss and agree options.|
Special paid leave should be considered especially in the short term while you discuss what happens next. Other options that could be considered include:
leave without pay*
long-service leave (if relevant)
alternative holidays (if relevant)
other payments (even partial payments) by the employer for a certain period of time
any combination of the above.
If the desired set of options are not provided for in the employment agreement, it would be necessary to negotiate a variation to the employment agreement.
Note: if an employer considers broader variations are needed to hours or other aspects of the agreement, the employer should consult restructuring guidance.
|Leave paid in accordance with what has been agreed, including being compliant with the Holidays Act.|
|Employee is not at workplace, not working from home, not sick, and has not agreed some form of leave with employer||If the parties cannot agree, the employer can direct the employee to take entitled annual leave with at least 14 days’ notice.||Directed annual leave is paid in accordance with the Holidays Act.|
|Employee is absent from work without agreed leave.||Employer and employee should discuss options available for what happens in this situation, but could include unpaid leave.||Employer and employee should discuss options available for what happens in this situation, but could include unpaid leave.|
For more information go to: Leave and Pay Entitlements During COVID-19
If you are unable to work
If you’ve lost your job or can’t work at present, you may be able to get a benefit or some other financial help from Work and Income. It depends on your situation.
You can use their ‘CHECK WHAT YOU MIGHT GET‘ tool to find out what type of help you may qualify for.
They’ll ask you some questions and, at the end, tell you the payments you might be able to get.
Please, if you think you might find yourself in financial difficulty and need help, we urge you to contact us AS SOON AS POSSIBLE so that we may discuss your financial needs.
Ph 09 579 0448