We hope everyone has settled into the second week and kept safe and well.
For our team it continues to be busy. We have seen a huge amount of enquiry regarding the Wage Subsidy and how to apply it, and general payroll and processing enquiries. Due to the high uptake of the subsidies, the wait times on phone lines for MSD and WINZ continue to be incredibly long and latest advice is that it is now taking over a week for any payments to show.
For those who now have the funds in their bank account, there are fresh questions emerging, around how to pass this on and what you are required to do for employees. It is a difficult balancing act between the needs of the business, and the needs of the employees.
It is important to note, that regardless of the rules of the Wage Subsidy – ALL employers still have to meet their obligations under the Employment Act first and foremost. This can be a challenge when tensions are high, and many people are under significant financial stress.
While there hasn’t been a huge amount of guidance at the front end on how to deal with these subsidies, there is now plenty of examples and questions and answers online. We have found the links below useful for understanding both subsidy questions and employer obligations:
Employment NZ in particular has some useful case studies and examples: https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/other-types-of-leave/coronavirus-workplace/wage-subsidy/
And as always, we are here and happy to help if you need us.
So while we are getting our collective heads around the existing subsidies… there has been another one released.
Essential Workers Leave Support
This one is for businesses currently trading in essential services, who might have employees or dependents that due to Covid-19 need to self-isolate, or have ‘at risk’ employees who under the Ministry of Health Guidelines cannot work in the current environment.
To apply, the essential service workers either:
- are at higher risk if they get COVID-19, and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home while we’re in lockdown (and potentially longer)
- come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 14 days (as required by Ministry of Health guidelines)
- have tested positive for COVID-19 and are required to remain off work until they’ve been cleared by a health professional to be released from self-isolation, or
- have household members who are at higher risk if they get COVID-19 and Ministry of Health recommend the worker also remains at home to reduce the risk to them
You must also:
- have had a conversation with your employee about how you can best support your employee/s at this time. For example, they may choose to use any sick or discretionary leave they have, instead of getting the Leave Support. If you can’t pay the full amount of this leave to your employee, you can apply for the Leave Support to top it up
- not be able to financially support your employee due to COVID-19
WINZ is the place to apply for Essential Services Leave Support: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-essential-workers-leave-support.html#null
And common questions and answers for the Essential Services Leave Support: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid19-essential-workers-leave-support-faq.html
As always we are more than happy to assist if you need, please contact us directly to discuss your situation and how this may apply.
From the Graham Brown & Co Team
Kia kaha, stay safe