Wage Subsidy Scheme

A COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme has been developed to help businesses and affected workers in the short-term, as they adjust to the initial impact of COVID-19.

Last updated: 1 April 2020

The Government has made modifications to the Wage Subsidy Scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown.

The Wage Subsidy Scheme supports employers and their staff to maintain an employment connection and ensure an income for affected employees, even if the employee is unable to actually work any hours. Modifications to the Wage Subsidy Scheme were announced on 27 March 2020.

Applications for the previous Wage Subsidy Scheme and COVID-19 Leave Payment Scheme closed at 3pm on Friday 27 March 2020.

Applications for the modified Wage Subsidy Scheme will be open while New Zealand is at COVID-19 Alert Level 4. Firms have been able to apply since 4pm Friday 27 March on the Work and Income website.

Applying for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy – Work and Income (external link)

About the Subsidy

The Wage Subsidy Scheme:

  • supports employers adversely affected by COVID-19, so that they can continue to pay their employees, and
  • supports workers to ensure they continue to receive an income, even if they are unable to work.

The modified Wage Subsidy Scheme is available to all businesses (including the self-employed, contractors and sole traders), registered charities, incorporated societies and post settlement governance entities, that are adversely affected by COVID-19. It is also available to employers who recently let employees go because of COVID-19, provided they re-hire those employees.

The scheme excludes state sector organisations.

Eligibility criteria and further information is available from Work and Income. 

Applying for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy – Work and Income (external link)

Application timeframes

Work and Income are working to pay the Wage Subsidy as quickly as they can. They will be in touch if they need to check anything. We know this is a hard time for many New Zealand businesses and we really appreciate your patience.

As part of the application process, they need to check the information you’ve given is the same as what’s held by Inland Revenue. If it isn’t, there could be a delay. Work and Income will let you know as soon as there’s an update on your application.

Employment NZ or Work and Income cannot give you information about the status of your application over the phone.

You can read more about payment timeframes and the application process on the Work and Income website, including answers to Common questions on the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy (external link)

COVID-19 sick leave payment scheme

As of 3pm Friday 27 March 2020, the previous separate sick leave payment scheme has been folded into this Wage Subsidy Scheme. The original sick leave scheme was designed when few people were in self-isolation. The Government is working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

More information

Find out more about the wage subsidy scheme, including how to apply, and other support for businesses at:

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