Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the workplace

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses.

For information on what alert level New Zealand is currently at and general guidance for different alert levels, visit the COVID-19 website (external link) .

General guidance for workplaces

  • Employers and employees need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect New Zealand and keep each other safe. This means that normal obligations to keep in regular contact and to act in good faith are more important than ever.
  • Regular employment law still applies to all employment relationships – regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in. This includes anything that has been agreed to in an employment agreement.
  • Under no circumstances can employers pay less than the minimum wage or reduce any of employees’ legal minimum employment entitlements.
  • Employers and employees need to discuss, in good faith, any changes in work arrangements, leave and pay, or health and safety measures.
  • In the absence of an agreement to alternative working arrangements, employees need to return to work if there is no reason the employee needs to stay away from work under public health guidance (external link)
  • If a worker is sick with COVID-19, or required to self-isolate, the first consideration for an employer should be to look after people, contain COVID-19 and protect public health. Businesses may be able to apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme to support their employees.
  • Employers should not knowingly allow workers to come to a workplace when they are sick with COVID-19 or required to self-isolate under public health guidelines for COVID-19. If they do, they are likely to be in breach of their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
  • All workplaces must comply with the conditions of each alert level. To find out more visit the COVID-19 website (external link) .
  • The wage subsidy schemes help businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 to keep employees connected to the workplace. Businesses should check if they are eligible for a wage subsidy on the Work and Income website (external link)

Modifying employment agreements during COVID-19 response and recovery

Find out about options to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Terminating employment agreements during COVID-19 response and recovery

There are good faith processes to follow for workplace change, and redundancy should only be considered if no suitable alternative arrangements have been found.

Leave and pay entitlements during COVID-19 response and recovery

Your rights and responsibilities regarding pay and leave during COVID-19 response and recovery.

Temporary changes to parental leave law due to COVID-19

These law changes allow some workers on parental leave to temporarily go back to work without losing their entitlements.

COVID-19: Guidance for payroll professionals

This page provides a set of key messages for payroll professionals around what employment law looks like in the COVID-19 environment to help answer any questions that are presenting.

Wage subsidy schemes

Financial support for businesses and workers who are financially impacted by COVID-19 to maintain an employment connection and ensure an income for affected employees.

Addressing health and safety concerns

Guidance for workers and businesses operating during the different COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions.

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

Financial support for people in situations where they need to stay away from work and cannot work from home.

Wage subsidy and Leave Support: Complaints about employers

If you believe your employer is acting unlawfully in regards to the wage subsidy schemes or Leave Support Scheme, here are the steps to resolve your concerns or make a complaint.

Employment New Zealand's approach to COVID-19

Employment New Zealand is the labour market regulator. This page sets out its approach, and what it expects of workplaces, in relation to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Workers and Workplaces Assistance Fund

The Government has allocated $3 million to be awarded through a contestable fund to enable business services, unions and community providers to support workers and workplaces in response to COVID-19.

Page last revised: 12 August 2020

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