As you are aware the lockdown implications from the containment of Covid-19 is an extraordinary situation and one which is constantly changing. As a result it raises lots of employment questions. We recommend the following:
- If you are a non-essential business and are going into lockdown first talk to your bank and/or accountant so you can clarify and be fully aware of your financial situation.
- Consult with your employees given the Government’s level 4 alert system and what this means for the business. i.e. can you work from home or is this not possible?
- Apply for the wage subsidy now on the basis your revenue will be down for the next few month. The application is available on the work and income website. This subsidy will provide employers with $585 gross for each full time employees and $350 for each part time employees for a 12 week period. (The subsidy now applies to all New Zealand employers, contractors, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities and incorporated societies).
- We recommend topping up each employee their normal wages/salary so they are getting paid at least 80% of what they would normally earn. However if this is not financially viable then consider negotiating or asking employees to use their sick leave and/or annual leave each pay period so you can attempt to buffer up the subsidy and pay them 80% of their normal wages/salary. The goal is to keep everyone employed in the interim albeit on reduced wages/salary and reduced hours.
- If you are required to cease operating or if there is no work, then you could, following consultation, terminate roles in reliance on a force majeure clause if there is one in the employment contract or consider implementing a restructuring process. However, with the business support package announced by the Government, you may be able to agree with staff that they take annual leave, and then unpaid leave over the coming weeks and receive the wage subsidy.
- You should also apply for financial support via the leave payment under the Government’s economic package for those who:
- need to self-isolate in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and have registered as needing to self-isolate with Healthline, cannot work from home and their self-isolation is not because they left NZ since the travel restrictions on 16 March 2020 and have since returned or
- cannot work because the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or
- cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate or who are sick with COVID-19
If you need advice on your particular business please email Katherine McDonald or ring her on 03 211 0924