These are all real-life examples of questions we have been asked (some details changed to prevent identification). What would you do?
Here are some answers to those fundamental questions of what you can and can’t do with staff during lockdown, and some reminders on all things COVID related.
ANNUAL LEAVE AND SICK LEAVE
If your employee was already taking planned and agreed annual leave during this lockdown period you are under no obligation to reinstate it for them. They are still on annual leave (or sick leave).
An employer can require employees to take annual leave but must consult with them first and provide 14 days’ notice.
If your employee would ordinarily have worked during the lockdown, unless you have a mutual agreement (in writing) to the contrary, they must be paid.
Reductions in pay can only be by agreement.
If you have agreement, and the employee can’t work from home, the amount you pay does not have to meet minimum wage requirements. This was determined by an Employment Court case earlier this year. Click here to read the case.
Continue to operate as required remembering to conduct the risk analysis and put in whatever additional measures are required to protect your employees from the virus.
In the first instance have a discussion about why they do not want to work. This may resolve any fears or concerns they have. If not, ensure you have conducted a risk assessment for that individual, and subject to being able to put in sufficient measures to mitigate the risks, you can require them to work. If they decide not to work they are not entitled to be paid and depending on the circumstances you may consider disciplinary action depending on their reasons for not working.
The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is a payment to help support businesses or organisations with one-off costs due to a COVID-19 alert level increase to level 2 or higher. It allows businesses to get up to $1500, plus an extra $400 per employee up to a maximum of 50 full-time employees. Click here for more details
The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) is available nationally if we are in Alert Levels 3 and 4 for a period of 7 days or more. Therefore at this stage, unless you are in Auckland or the Coromandel Peninsula, you are not eligible. If this lockdown is extended then this will change.
The wage subsidy will be reinstated on Friday if the country is still in lockdown. A business can apply if they anticipate they will experience a 40 percent loss of revenue due to alert level 4.
The rates have increased. Businesses will be eligible for $600 per week per full-time equivalent employee, and $359 per week per part-time employee.
A the time of publishing this, the Work and Income website did not have a link for information on the WSS.