Two personal grievances raised in relation to reducing pay during Level 4 lockdown have been heard and decided on by the Employment Relations Authority. The wage subsidy declaration gave many employers the impression that as long as they had used their ‘best endeavours’ to pay their staff at 80% of their normal wages then there wasn’t an actual obligation to pay them anything more than the wage subsidy itself.
The extension to the Wage Subsidy has far more clarity than the original, however there are still some areas of potential confusion.
The Work and Income website remains the best source of information, and I have highlighted a few of the key considerations rather than repeat all they have said.
- You cannot apply for the extended wage subsidy until the current subsidy for your employees has finished. This is in bold, in a box of its own, at the top of the website page. Although this makes forward planning a little more difficult, the rule is clear.
- You still have to discuss the application with your employees and they need to provide consent for their details to go in to the Ministry. We strongly recommend that consent is in writing.
- If you remain unable to pay your employees their full contracted salary/wages, any changes must be agreed in writing and the employee provided with time to seek independent advice before agreeing to this. Agreement must be in writing as this is a change to terms and conditions of employment.
- All of your obligations under employment law remain.
If your employee is on ACC you cannot claim the subsidy for them. This makes sense if they are 100% on ACC, but less so if they have some capacity to work. I have put the question to Work and Income asking that if the employee is working reduced hours (less than 20 per week), however their normal working week is 40 hours, is it possible to claim the part time wage subsidy. I am awaiting a response.