Responding to the latest NZ COVID-19 Alert Levels

Sylvie Thrush Marsh, HR Advisor
By Sylvie Thrush Marsh, HR Advisor

Due to cases of the COVID-19 virus in the community, New Zealand was at heightened COVID-19 Alert Levels.

As of 9am on Thursday, 8 October 2020:

  • All of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1.

Get more information about Alert Levels at the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Here is our advice for businesses and what you and your people should do in response to COVID-19 and the current Alert Level.

Remember, the basic rule is anyone who feels unwell should stay home. If your employees feel unwell, advise them to stay home, pay them sick leave, and recommend they get health advice.

Advice for businesses operating at Alert Level 1

Under Alert Level 1, businesses can operate with no restrictions in place.

However, there remains a risk of COVID-19 returning to the community, so every workplace and business must display a NZ COVID Tracer QR code to help with contact tracing (if required). This is a legal requirement.

Get a QR code poster for your business.

All workplaces should also keep up good hygiene practices. This means:

  • keeping all surfaces clean;
  • washing hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and drying thoroughly (or use hand sanitiser if washing isn't possible);
  • coughing and sneezing into your elbow.

Find out more about doing business at Alert Level 1 at COVID19.govt.nz.

Resurgence Wage Subsidy

The Resurgence Wage Subsidy is the 3rd version of the government's wage subsidy scheme.

The subsidy is available to employers throughout NZ (including self-employed people) so they can keep paying their employees for a 2-week period. It is broadly the same as the previous schemes:

  • Payment values are the same ($585.80 per week for someone working 20+ hours a week; $350 p/w for someone working fewer hours).
  • Business must be able to show a 40% drop in revenue for a 14-day period between 12 August to 10 September 2020, compared to a similar period past year.
  • The decline must be related to COVID-19.
  • You must have taken steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and commit to trying to pay your employees at least 80% of their normal wages.
  • The subsidy is for 2-weeks from the day you submit your application. Applications are open from 1pm Friday 21 August to 3 September 2020
  • You cannot receive both the Wage Subsidy Extension and the Resurgence Wage Subsidy for the same employee; no double dipping.

Find out more about the subsidy at the Work and Income website.

Income Relief Payment

Employees who lose their job due to the impacts of COVID-19 may be eligible for the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment.

People must have lost their last job or self-employment between 1 March 2020 and 30 October 2020 (inclusive), and they normally worked 15 hours or more a week (for 12 weeks or more).

The Income Relief Payment is paid for up to 12 weeks while you don't have a job. Payment rates depend on your previously-worked hours:

  • $490 per week if you were previously working 30 hours or more a week.
  • $250 per week if you were previously working 15 hours to 29 hours a week.

Payments are tax-free.

There are a number of other conditions, including:

  • You can't get the Income Relief Payment and the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy, Leave Support payments, or a main benefit, e.g. Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support, at the same time.
  • You can't have left your job for another reason, e.g. retirement, resignation, or dismissal for misconduct.
  • You can't get a redundancy payment of $30,000 or more (before tax), or receive private income protection insurance payments, or get weekly earnings-related compensation from ACC.

Final work date

Some of MyHR's clients have asked if their employee could have their redundancy confirmed before 30 October 2020, but then work out their notice period and have their last day of employment after the cut-off date.

The answer is no. An employee's last day of employment needs to be on or before 30 October to be eligible for the Income Relief Payment.

Find out more about the Income Relief Payment at Work and Income's website.