The New Zealand Government's $12.1 billion COVID-19 economic support package includes tax relief, sick leave support and more than $5 billion in immediate wage subsidies for businesses affected by the pandemic.
Available Wage Subsidies
A lump sum subsidy of $7029.60 to provide 12-weeks' subsidy per full-time employee (defined as employed for 20+ hours per week), and $4,200 to provide 12-weeks' subsidy per part-time employee (less than 20 hours per week) is being made available to eligible businesses and contractors.
Where eligible, this payment will be made as a lump sum to the business to a maximum of $150,000 over the 12 weeks to use towards wage payments. This is the equivalent of 21 full time staff.
Applications on behalf of any employee can be made by the employer via www.workandincome.govt.nz for 12 weeks from 17 March 2020.
It is important to read the fine print and the application criteria. For employers you must:
- have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue because of COVID-19 over the period of any month from January 2020 through to the end of this scheme when compared to the same month last year.
- be registered and operating in New Zealand and only be applying for legally employed staff.
- declare that you will do your best to continue to employ the staff you are claiming subsidy for at a minimum of 80% of their income until at least 12th June 2020.
- have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your business activities (such as engagement with your bank, Chamber of Commerce, industry association or the Regional Business Partner programme).
- have discussed your application with the employees being named and acquired their consent to include them (in writing where practicable).
- consent to your business name and the level and duration of subsidy received on a publicly accessible register.
This wage subsidy is focused on keeping people in a minimum of 80% employment for at least the next 12 weeks. If employment could be at risk and mitigated by this subsidy an application should be considered with consideration to the full criteria as set out.
COVID-19 Leave & Self-Isolation Support
This scheme is to help workers to self-isolate if required, while ill with COVID-19, or where caring for someone dependent with COVID-19.
The subsidy will be $585.80 per week for full-time (20+hours per week) and $350 per week for part-time (less than 20 hours per week) employees.
Applications on behalf of any employee who is self-isolating, sick with COVID-19, or caring for a dependent who is diagnosed with COVID-19, can be made via www.workandincome.govt.nz for 8 weeks from 17 March 2020.
As an employer you must:
- be registered and operating in New Zealand, and only be applying for legally-employed staff.
- only apply for workers who cannot work from home.
- not be applying for staff who are completing self-isolation if they left New Zealand to travel overseas after 16 March 2020.
- Pass on the payment in full to the employee.
- more than one (1) application per employee may be required as there could be more than one (1) period of self-isolation or sickness due to Covid-19.
- employees will not be required to have used any or all their paid leave entitlements before they can receive this payment.
- payments will be subject to deductions as defined by Government
Questions Grow HR Will Be Keeping An Eye On
As with any scheme like this there will be ongoing questions. Initial questions we will be looking for more guidance on are:
- Whether the wage subsidy and COVID-19 leave and self isolation support can be claimed for the same period.
- How you would select staff if you employment more than 21 full time equivalents
- Whether passing on the subsidy in full means that it is a tax-free payment.
- Whether there are KiwiSaver deductions to be made.
- Whether other regulatory deductions continue to be made – student loans etc.
- Whether an employer can or may ‘top-up’ the 20% for the wage subsidy.
- Will the subsidy count as earnings for holiday and leave calculations.
Official Sources Of COVID-19 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
Still Have Questions About COVID-19?
Give us a call on (06) 878 5454 or flick an email @firstname.lastname@example.org