Employees

Uniting against COVID-19 in the workplace

We all need to do what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, and protect New Zealand. 

Employees working in essential businesses will continue to work, but will put in place alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, including shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements and physical distancing.

Find out about the rules for non-essential gatherings

Employees in essential businesses

Essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand.

This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.

Find out more about essential businesses

Employees supporting employers

Employees should support their employers by: 

  • notifying their employer they are self-isolating  
  • agreeing to work from home if they feel well and are willing and able to do so  
  • keeping in regular contact, and dealing in good faith, with employers. 

Further guidance for employers and employees(external link)(external link) 

Wage subsidy scheme

New Zealand employers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 are eligible to apply. This includes:

  • registered charities
  • NGOs
  • the self-employed and sole traders
  • contractors
  • registered charities
  • incorporated societies, and
  • post-settlement governance entities.

Employers, contractors, sole traders and the self-employed, may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy.

To qualify:

  • the business is registered and operating in New Zealand
  • employees are legally working in New Zealand
  • the business has experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19. There are special rules for new businesses and high-growth firms
  • the business has taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
  • the business must retain covered employees in employment for the period of the subsidy.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.

Employers must make best endeavours to pay employees 80% of their normal income. Where that is not possible – in particular where a business has no activity whatsoever due to the shutdown and workers are not working any hours – employers must pass on at least the whole value of the wage subsidy to each affected worker. If a person’s income is normally less than the subsidy, they can be paid that normal salary.

The subsidy is paid as a lump sum to the employer to pass on to employees and covers 12 weeks per employee.

The wage subsidy is a Government payment to help employers pay wages. It does not change any other employment law obligations, meaning employees must be paid appropriately under their employment agreements for the hours they work during the lockdown.

Read more information, including how to apply, on Work and Income(external link)

Updates to the wage subsidy scheme

24 March 2020: the Government announced the removal of the $150,000 cap(external link)

27 March 2020: Government modified scheme to better support workers not able to work during Level 4(external link)

Leave Payment

From 3pm on 27 March 2020, the COVID-19 Leave Payment is no longer available for employers. Applications already submitted will continue to be processed and paid.

The Government is working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

Additional resources

Information about financial assistance for workers and businesses

Information about workplace responses to COVID-19 at the employment.govt.nz website(external link)

Updates about COVID-19 at the employment.govt.nz website(external link)

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