COVID-19 financial support

Current financial support schemes for businesses, employers and employees.

Employment law still applies to all employment relationships, regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in, including during a pandemic or a natural disaster:

  • Employers must have a written employment agreement (employment contract) for every employee, and employers and employees must do what that agreement calls for.
  • Employers must keep each written employment agreement up to date, including documenting in writing any changes to any terms and conditions of employment they have agreed to.
  • Employers and employees must meet all employment law and any other relevant contractual conditions to change any employment arrangements.
  • Employers must engage with union representatives, where a union represents the employees, before any changes are made to collective employment agreements.
  • Employers must comply with all minimum employment standards and the Employment Relations Act 2000.

At each alert level change, employers and employees should first talk about whether the employee can continue to work normally and how the employee can work safely at home or at their place of work.

COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment

This payment is for employers to pay their workers in situations where workers need to stay home and cannot work from home while they are waiting for a COVID-19 test result. Employers can apply for support to pay their employees. The self-employed or contractors can apply directly.

The payment will be a one-off amount of $350 for each eligible worker. Parents or caregivers who need to stay away from work to support their dependents who are staying at home awaiting a test result are also eligible, as are some people who need to stay at home in accordance with public health guidance while awaiting the test result of somebody in their household.

The COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment is administered by the Ministry of Social Development.

Find out who is eligible, how to apply and how to pay staff on the Work and Income website.

COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment – Work and Income (external link)

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

This scheme is available for employers to pay their employees in situations where employees need to stay away from work and cannot work from home. Employers can apply for support to pay employees. The self-employed or contractors can apply directly.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is administered by the Ministry of Social Development. 

Find out who is eligible, how to apply and how to pay staff on the Work and Income website. 

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – Work and Income (external link)   

Financial support schemes and employment law

Employment law has not changed. The financial support schemes operate alongside existing employment law. Employment obligations have not been removed or changed by employers accessing COVID-19 financial support. Employers must ensure that they are meeting their pay obligations under both employment law and the requirements they agreed to when applying for these COVID-19 financial support schemes.

Employees must be paid the higher of the amount that they are entitled to under employment law or the relevant wage subsidy requirements:

  • Under employment law, employees must be paid for each and every hour that they work at their agreed wage rate. Employers and employees can temporarily or permanently agree to vary the agreed wage rate in writing and signed by both parties. Any change requires good faith consultation and written agreement signed by both parties.
  • Under the wage subsidies, the employer must make their best endeavours to pay employees at least 80% of their normal salary or wages. They must pass on at least the full value of the relevant subsidy rate except where the employee’s normal wages are less than the relevant subsidy rate. In this case, the employee should be paid their normal wages and employers can use any excess subsidy to pay the wages of other affected employees.
  • Employers must pay employees as if they were in continuous employment.

Complaints about employers

If employees have questions about how these payments apply to them, such as whether the employer has applied for any scheme or when and how much they will receive, employees should contact their employer in the first instance.

If talking to employers doesn’t resolve the problem, or employees think their employer has acted unlawfully, employees can make a complaint with us. 

Complaints about employers

COVID-19 financial support tool

There are other financial support available to both individuals and businesses. Find out more on the website

COVID-19 financial support tool – (external link)

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Page last revised: 30 July 2021

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