COVID-19 Employment Law Update

April 2nd, 2020

New Essential Workers Leave Scheme:

On Thursday 2 April the government announced a new essential worker leave scheme to take effect on Monday 6 April 2020 (midday).

The objective of the scheme is to ensure that workers in essential business who need to stay home (isolate) are still receiving income when they are able and willing to work but cannot be at work due to public health requirements.

The COVID-19 public health guide provides the guidelines for the health requirements.

Eligibility Criteria:

–  Essential workers who are self-isolating because they have contracted the virus or have been in contact with someone who has contracted the virus, or have a dependent in their bubble who is   self-isolating for these reasons.

–  Essential workers who are deemed, by public health guidance, as at higher risk if they contract COVID-19 and should self-isolate for the duration of the lockdown or longer (i.e. those over 70  and those with compromised immunity).

– Essential workers who have household members (inside their bubble) who are deemed at higher risk if they contract COVID-19 and therefore should self-isolate to reduce the risk of  transmitting the virus to that household member.

More information will be published as to what it means for someone to be at higher risk before the scheme launches on Monday.

How much is the scheme providing?

This scheme is providing essential businesses with support at the same rates as the Wage Subsidy Scheme. That is:

– $585.80 per week for a full time worker.

– $350.00 per week for a part time worker.

I’m an employer, what do I need to be paying workers who need to take leave due to COVID-19?

– Their usual weekly income before COVID-19, if this is less than the relevant rate provided; or

–  A minimum of the full leave rate, if the workers’ usual income before COVID 19 exceeds the relevant rate, and in that case also make best endeavours to pay at least 80 percent of the  workers’ usual income before COVID-19.

Employees who are on other forms of paid leave should be paid at their usual full rates of pay.

How long is the scheme available?

The scheme will be available for at least the period in which the nation is at Alert Level 4. It will be reviewed after eight weeks.

Payments will be for four weeks at a time with the option for essential businesses to re-apply for those same workers after four weeks or make further applications for additional eligible workers while the scheme remains in force.

More details:

The scheme will be administered by the Ministry of Social Development and applications will take place online. Employers will need to apply for their eligible employees to receive from the scheme.

More information is to be released by the government. BuckettLaw is following developments closely and will continue to provide relevant updates.

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