In this update we remind you about our FREE Virtual Workshops coming up, and we look at the Essential Workers Leave Scheme, Public Holidays, 90-Day Trials and Suspending KiwiSaver Contributions.
Free Virtual Workshops
Our FREE Virtual Workshops start this week – there are FIVE different workshops across EIGHT separate sessions.
REGISTER HERE for our FREE People Management & Employment Relations Workshops via Video Conferencing
Essential Workers Leave Scheme
The Government announced late last week the addition of an Essential Workers Leave Scheme for workers who take leave in line with public health guidelines.
Applications can be made by employers of essential workers via the Work and Income website from 12pm Monday 6 April 2020 – FOLLOW THIS LINK
This new payment is intended to support essential workers who have to stay at home to comply with public health guidance, and whose employers are unable to keep paying them. It will be available for 4 weeks at a time – this means a new application will be needed every 4 weeks if an employee continues to be unable to work for reasons that the subsidy covers.
The Essential Workers Leave Scheme subsidy for these workers will be at the same rates as the Wage Subsidy Scheme. The rates are currently $585.80 per week (20 hours plus) and $350.00 per week for part time workers (less than 20 hours). Workers are only eligible for one subsidy so if the Wage Subsidy has been claimed and paid it is not expected that this subsidy would be additionally claimable for the same period.
The scheme will be open to essential workers who would otherwise be working (or available to work) except that they are:
- Self-isolating in accordance with public health guidance because they have contracted COVID-19 or have come into contact with someone who has contracted the virus (or have a dependent they need to care for who is sick or self-isolating).
- Deemed at higher risk if they contract COVID-19, in accordance with public health guidance and as such should self-isolate for the duration of the lockdown (and potentially longer).
- With household members who are deemed at higher risk if they contract COVID-19, in accordance with public health and as such should self-isolate for the duration of the lockdown (and potentially longer) to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to that household member.
Guidance to support employers and employees to discuss what it means to be at higher risk will be available online tomorrow (Monday 6 April 2020) before the scheme goes live. Once this update is available check out the Grow HR News section for how to apply this guidance in practice.
This week sees our first public holidays since the lockdown began with Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Payment of public holidays continues to be what the employee would have otherwise received that day had the employee been schedule to work that day. As New Zealand is in lockdown, your current arrangements for staff who cannot work because of the lockdown would continue to apply, unless we are notified otherwise this week by the Government.
If an employee is an essential worker and works on that day, they will continue to be entitled to time at 1.5 for time worked plus an alternative day in lieu as normal and where applicable.
90-Day Trial Periods
We've had a few questions around 90-day trial periods, which continue to apply for 90 calendar days from the commencement of employment. If you have any queries about staff members you currently have on 90-day trial periods, get in touch with Lance on email@example.com or 021 882 772
Suspending KiwiSaver Contributions
Inland Revenue have simplified the process for staff members wanting to take a KiwiSaver holiday.
This is available for any employee who has been a KiwiSaver member for at least 12 months. If you have an employee wishing to apply to suspend their KiwiSaver contributions, they will need details of their employer’s business as follows:
- IRD number, address and contact details.
- Business or trade name.
Those who have not been in KiwiSaver for at least one year, and wish to take a KiwiSaver holiday, will need to provide evidence of financial hardship.
Applications can be made HERE – the employee will need their IR login to complete the application.
The approval process is automated and done overnight for employees with more than 12 months of contributions. Confirmation will be sent to the employee by email. Employers must have this confirmation email from IRD before stopping contributions.
Staff Communication Advice
For further advice about communicating with staff, how to provide opportunities for input and feedback from staff, or how to go about implementing decisions, contact the team at Grow HR on firstname.lastname@example.org or 06 8785454
Many more questions will arise. We'll update you all again when we can but in the interim if you have urgent questions please get in touch with the team on 06 878 5454 or email@example.com
Finally, please remember to stay home if you're not an essential worker and only leave your bubble when absolutely necessary for no more than one hour a day.
You can walk the dog, go for a run or go to the supermarket (maybe at the same time), and switch your children with their other parent or caregivers.
Most importantly of all, take care, be kind to yourself and others, and remember we will get through this.
Official sources of COVID-19 information
- The New Zealand Government's Official Source of Information
- Hawke's Bay COVID-19 Response from Hawke's Bay Business Hub
- COVID-19 Updates from Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce
- PlanA Consulting COVID-19 Information for Businesses
- MBIE – The Kiwi Business Boost
- MBIE – COVID-19 Information For Businesses
- Ministry of Health coronavirus up-to-date guidance
- Ministry of Health workforce pandemic influenza guidance
- Ministry of Health coronavirus questions and answers
- Ministry of Health coronavirus self-isolation guidance
- Ministry of Health coronavirus advice for travellers
- Employment during and after disasters
- Business.govt.nz emergency planning
- Worksafe workplace preparedness for novel coronavirus
- Protect yourself against coronavirus poster
- Protect yourself against coronavirus poster - simplified Chinese
- For any further questions about employment rights and responsibilities, contact Employment New Zealand