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.

Last updated: 7 August 2020

The fund will help to:

  • Provide support for workers and workplaces in their response to and recovery from COVID-19
  • Enhance the capability of business organisations, unions, and community providers to support workers and workplaces, to manage and minimise employment impacts and improve their position for recovery following COVID-19
  • Recognise and provide support to Māori and Pasifika workers, businesses and community services, as well as vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers and their representatives.

For the purpose of the fund, the term “workers” needs to be understood in a broad sense. There is no intention to limit the fund to only cover issues that affect employees. For example, helping business services, unions and community providers to provide targeted support to contractors (and minimise any adverse impacts on contractors as a result of COVID-19) is consistent with the overall purpose and objectives of the fund.

How will the fund be distributed?

The $3 million will be distributed evenly across business services, unions and community providers.

There is no funding limit for individual proposals. The level of funding will be considered on a case by case basis by the assessment panel.


Eligibility to apply for funding is relatively broad so long as applications fall within the purpose of the fund. This ensures that each application will be able to be assessed on its merits against the assessment criteria (set out below) without excluding potential groups at the outset. Applicants will be able to make one application only, and the applications must:

  • Be submitted by a New Zealand legal entity
  • Give sufficient detail for MBIE to assess the proposal
  • Be within the purpose and scope of the fund.
  • All contracted work programmes to be completed before 1 July 2021

Who will assess applications?

MBIE will perform an initial triage of proposals received and will aim to provide applicants with quick feedback about their proposal. Proposals will then be reviewed and decided on by a small assessment panel, agreed by the Minister, with representatives from government, unions, business and community groups.

How will the panel assess applications?

An initial triage will assess whether or not the proposal meets the objectives of the fund. If the proposal meets the objectives, the panel will then invite you to submit an application. An agreed assessment criteria will be used by the panel to assess applications for funding. Further information on the assessment criteria will be provided as part of the application process.

What is in scope of the funding? 

Proposals should be new initiatives or build on existing initiatives that fit within the scope of the contestable fund.  The types of initiatives that would fit within the scope of the fund include:

  • Information and education programmes
  • Development programmes
  • CV workshops
  • Job interview assistance
  • Information evening/support group
  • Tailored employment support to vulnerable groups, including Māori, Pasifika and migrant workers
  • Services to advocate for, and provide support to, all types of “worker” (including contractors and people who are considering becoming contractors).

What is out of scope of the funding?

In general, the fund will not support proposals that include:

  • Business as usual services
  • Downturn in subscriptions
  • Loss of wages
  • Capital costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Activities that are already funded from other Government initiatives.

How do I submit an expression of interest?

Email your expression of interest to for MBIE to do an initial triage. The email should contain the following information:

  • The name and type of organisation you are requesting funding for
  • A brief (150 word) summary of the work you are requesting funding for and how it differs from business as usual service delivery
  • How the work will support workers or workplaces
  • The expected outcomes of the work, including how many people would benefit
  • Why the funding is necessary to deliver the work.

Expressions of interest will be open for 10 working days. If deemed eligible to apply following the initial triage, an application pack will be sent. Parties will have 15 working days to submit a completed application form. 

Funding will be contracted on MBIE terms which MBIE will supply in due course. Your funding will be contingent upon acceptance of these terms.

MBIE may amend, suspend, cancel or re-issue all or any part of this fund. 

What publicity will be given to the Initiative?

Information on any award of money may be made public, including entity type, entity name, funding amounts and details of how the funding will be used.

When publicising any work, funded parties are expected to acknowledge the contribution made by the COVID-19 Workers and Workplaces Assistance Fund.

All external requests for information held by MBIE (including information obtained from agencies) are covered by the Official Information Act 1982, regardless of the form of the request.  All information received or created by MBIE from any proposal or application, including contract reporting, will be subject to the Official Information Act 1982 and may be proactively released.

Reporting Expectations

The contract holder must manage the funding to ensure delivery of the contracted work programme and adhere to any reporting requirements. Funding provided by MBIE will be provided as after the funding contract is signed

The following table provides an overview of the contract reporting requirements for contracts 

Report type Report Due Date Reporting Period
Progress report Every three months after the funds have been released From the date the funds were released to the last day of the month before the report is due
Final report No later 1 July 2021 From the date the funds were released to the last day of the month before the report is due

The report should also include information on:

  • The status and progress towards delivering the proposal
  • Expenditure
  • Key achievements and benefits obtained from the use of the funding
  • Emerging risks and what is being done to address them
  • Other relevant components aligned with the proposal

Reports will be submitted to the WRS COVID Fund inbox


Date Action
6 July Announcement of Fund
6 July - 12 noon, 17 July Request for expressions of interest open for 10 working days
18 July - 5 pm, 12 August Request for proposals open for 15 working days
August Panel meet to consider applications
Late August Funding decisions made
September Applicants notified of decisions
Mid-September Funding contracts are finalised

Factsheet: COVID-19 Workers and Workplaces Assistance Fund [PDF 174KB]

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