11 August 2020
This page brings together all official resources to support business relating to Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) which have been made available. This page is updated regularly.
Workplace operations at covid-19 alert levels
NZ Government Website - covid19.govt.nz
This website has everything you need to know about Covid-19 in one place. Learn the simple steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread. Find out what help is available and get the latest updates.
Government website which provides guidance and support to the public as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Free Call Number: 0508 377 388
The Work and Income COVID-19 Employers Helpline number is 0800 778 008.
If anyone in your team are not well, they can call the Coronavirus Healthline 0800 358 5453.
Business Helpline 0800 50 50 96
Alert Level 2 checklists (7 May 2020)
Alert Level 3 checklist - retiring to work
The checklist here is designed to be used in conjunction with the accompanying quick guide Business expectations moving into Alert Level 3.
Moving from Alert Level 4 to Level 3
At Level 3, any business will be able to operate as long as they comply with Level 3 criteria and all obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. You can find out more about moving from Level 4 to Level 3 here.
Workplace operations Covid-19 alert levels
New guidance has been released about workplace activities at different alert levels. Information addresses some frequently asked questions as well as examples of what each alert level might look like for different kinds of businesses. The Workplace operations at Covid-19 alert levels are now available here.
De Wys & Jenney v Solly's Freight 1987 Limited (22 July 2020)
Recent media has pronounced the Solly's decision to be the first covid-19 redundancy case of note to emerge from the Employment Relations Authority. Two drivers were found to have been unjustifiably dismissed as part of a redundancy process that occurred between 23 March and 2 April 2020.
The case raises no new principals of law. It has very little to do with Covid-19. The lockdown was part of the background factual matrix, but was not really determinative. As such it can be seen only as reinforcement of the established law (which is in the Act anyway).
a) It was not fair and reasonable for the employer to say on the one hand that they had applied for the subsidy and would use best endeavours to keep staff, and then on the other hand to withdraw those staff members names from the subsidy application (Section 103A).
b) The employer did not meet its obligations under the Act to consult with affected staff, seek a response to the redundancy proposal, and genuinely consider the response (Section 4).
c) Both of these were a breach of the employers good faith obligation.
There is some discussion in the case about the effect of loss of revenue and business activity as a result of lockdown, and an acknowledgement that staff reductions could have been a reasonable business decision, but that did not excuse the fundamental failings of failing to consult and acting unreasonably.
Dove (30 June 2020)
During the Level 4 lockdown, Dove claimed the wage subsidy and paid it to their employees at the same time as reducing employees’ wages to 80% of normal earnings. It then gave workers notice of redundancy and, during the notice period, reduced wages still further to the level of the wage subsidy.
The ERA found that, as Dove did not have evidence of having received specific permission from employees to reduce their wages, the employees were entitled to arrears of the difference between normal wages and what they received during the lockdown.
This has significant implications for all employers who reduced employees’ wages while paying them the subsidy. It particularly impacts those that cannot prove that employees agreed to the lower rate. This case is being appealed to the Employment Court.
Gate Gourmet (29 June 2020)
Catering company Gate Gourmet claimed wage subsidies and gained staff agreement to receiving 80% of normal wages during lockdown, as required by Government, but this equated to less than the minimum wage and therefore breached the Minimum Wage Act. The ERA has now ordered Gate Gourmet to pay arrears for the difference between the subsidy and the minimum wage. Potentially thousands of businesses paid only the wage subsidy or paid less than the minimum wage during lockdown and may now be liable for significant arrears. No decision on an appeal has yet been taken.
A Wage Subsidy Extension payment will be available to support employers, including sole traders, who are still significantly impacted by COVID-19 after the Wage Subsidy ends. The Wage Subsidy Extension will be available from 10 June 2020 until 1 September 2020. Applications open from 10 June 2020 and you must show a revenue drop threshold of 40%. You can find out more here. (15 May 2020)
The wage subsidy now includes Directors/shareholders who have not been taking a salary. If they are working in their business – they can now apply for the wage subsidy. The WINZ guidance has been updated here under the section on Shareholders. (15 April 2020)
The Wage Subsidy Scheme is to provide financial support to employers affected by covid-19. Work & Income have a wage subsidy available to support employers affected by covid-19, which you can find here.
Enquiries: 0800 408 040
MSD is looking after the processing of the covid-19 payments, and you can find out how they can help here.
Wage and leave subsidy Questions & Answers from BusinessNZ
Links to Wage Subsidy and Leave Payment Application forms
MSD no charge recruitment service and financial assistance (24 July 2020)
MSD is offering a no-charge recruitment service and financial assistance package of up to $8,000 payable over 26 weeks. This is to employ a new staff member for a permanent role for a minimum of 30 hours per week (subject to approval). Contact Steve Nichols at MSD at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Small business cashflow (loan) scheme deadline extended (July 2020)
The Small Business cashflow loan scheme has been extended until the end of 2020. Applications opened on 12 May 2020 and can now be submitted up to and including 31 December 2020. You can find out more details here.
New fund to help save local events (3 July 2020)
The Government has established a new $10 million fund for the domestic events sector to help save jobs and protect incomes as it recovers from Covid-19. This fund opened on 3 July and will remain open until the full $10 million has been paid out. You can find out more here.
Screen sector recovery package (1 July 2020)
Thousands of kiwi jobs and investment in NZ productions will be protected through a screen sector support package announced on 1 July. The fund of $73 million ensures more than 230 productions that employ thousands of New Zealanders are not abandoned due to additional costs incurred as a result of Covid-19. You can find out more here.
Regional apprenticeship support scheme (17 June 2020)
The Government is providing businesses with up to $16,000 to help pay the cost of each apprentice for the first two years. Apprenticeship Boost will be available from August 2020 and runs for 20 months.
Commercial rent disputes (16 June 2020)
There is Government support underway to help small businesses resolve disputes over their commercial rent agreements during covid-19. The Property Law Act is being amended to bring in a rental dispute system in the wake of covid-19. The dispute system requires compulsory arbitration if tenants and landlords can’t agree on temporarily changed contract terms. There are more details here.
NZ covid tracer app - Ministry of Health (25 May 2020)
To stop the spread of covid-19, it is important to quickly trace the contacts of anyone who has been exposed. You can also get the QR code posters for your business. You can find out more information here.
Institute of Organisational Psychology resources (25 May 2020)
Jonathan Black, one of our training facilitators - has been working with colleagues from the Institute of Organisational Psychology putting together resources which are targeted at business owners and senior leaders. There are a wide range of resources which are free including: Leading through disruption; right-sizing your business; and resettling your business. Find out more here.
Contact tracing requirements (15 May 2020)
Worksafe has some more information on contact tracing requirements for business.
Small business cashflow loan scheme (15 May 2020)
The interest free loans are for a year for small businesses impacted by the covid-19 economic shock to support immediate cashflow needs and meet fixed costs. The scheme will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. The scheme will provide $10,000 to every firm and in addition $1,800 per equivalent full-time employee. Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within a year and open on 12 May and close on 12 June. You can find out more here.
Cashflow support for small businesses (1 May 2020)
The Government is providing interest free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by the covid-19 economic shock to support immediate cashflow needs and meet fixed costs. The scheme will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full time equivalent employees. The scheme will provide $10,000 to every firm and in addition $1,800 per equivalent full-time employee. Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within a year and open on 12 May. You can find out more here.
Business Support Resource Pack (May 2020)
To help with the transition to Alert Levels, we have a free member Business Support Resource Pack, from the EMA who is part of our BusinessNZ Network. This has a number of resources and templates to cover everything you need to support your business through the transitions in Alert Levels. This is available to non-members at $295 plus GST.
The Manufacturers Network and the EMA from the BusinessNZ network have been working on these covid-19 safe work practices under cover-19 alert level 3 for manufacturers not registered with MPI. The guiding principle for this is that all businesses tailor the principles of disease control for their specific circumstances. You can find out more here. Here are some helpful tips for the manufacturing industries.
The Affiliated Industries Group (AIG) through BusinessNZ have brought together a number of industry organisations Alert Level 3 guidelines for their members. This is provided to assist business sector approaches best suited to their circumstances. You can find these guidelines here.
Personal protective equipment (24 April 2020)
You can find out more information on PPE, where it is available, and who needs to use it. There is more information here.
Contact tracing - requirements for business (24 April 2020)
Businesses are asked to record the contact details of everyone who enters their workplace. This helps you with what information you need and how it should be recorded. It also summarises what Government requires. Please read more here.
Covid-19 Work Safe Plan (24 April 2020)
The WorkSafe website has general and sector specific guidance that will help businesses determine how they can operate safely. As a part of this, businesses are required to complete a Covid-19 Work Safe Plan which has had staff input and is shared with staff.
Sport New Zealand cover fund (7 May 2020)
If you are an affiliated sports regional organisation or club, you could be eligible for financial support through the community resilience fund to help you to remain financially viable through covid-19. Clubs can apply for $1,000 support, and regional sports organisations up to $40,000. You can find out more here, or speak to Sport Otago or Sport Southland who are processing the applications from 11 May.
Fast tracking resource consents (3 May 2020)
The Government has announced that they are fast-tracking resource consents under the Resource Management Act for critical infrastructure and development projects. The Minister for the Environment, David Parker has announced this to better enable economic recovery from covid-19. The temporary amendments to the Act will be made in June. You can read more here.
ACC levies delay (17 April 2020)
The ACC is delaying invoicing by three months to help businesses cope with the impact of Covid-19. Invoices for ACC levies in the 2020/21 financial year will now be sent out in October instead of July. You can read more here.
Business package welcome but SMEs may need more (15 April 2020)
Ministers the Hon Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and Stuart Nash have announced a suite of new measures to provide relief for small and medium-sized businesses during the cover-19 pandemic. These include a tax loss carry back scheme, changes to the tax loss continuity rules, business consultancy support, greater flexibility for businesses to meet their tax obligations and measures to support commercial tenants and landlords. You can read more here.
Frequently asked questions on employment and business issues (14 April 2020)
The EMA which is part of our network is regularly updating frequently asked questions on employment and business issues around the covid-19. You can find this document here.
Companies Act Changes (3 April 2020)
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to covid-19 to help them to remain viable and to keep New Zealanders in jobs. These are temporary changes.
Business Finance Guarantee - applications open (1 April 2020)
Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the NZ economy during the covid-19 pandemic.
Transport construction industry advance payments (1 April 2020)
The Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced that advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand's COVID-19 economic recovery.
IRD Update - tax matters (31 March 2020)
Inland Revenue will write-off any penalties and interest for businesses unable to pay taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19. Learn more.
Employer wage subsidy update (28 March 2020)
The Minister of Finance has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person's normal income is less than the level of the subsidy.
Financial support package (24 March 2020)
The Minister of Finance announced a range of financial support interventions including a $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy through this unprecedented time. The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. Read more.
Government economic response package Factsheet by BusinessNZ (17 March 2020)
The Income Support Factsheet is to provide clarity around the three main changes to welfare which were announced as part of the Government Economic Response Package.
Business Cashflow and Tax Measures Factsheet
The purpose of the Business Cashflow and Tax Measures Factsheet is to provide guidance to those who own commercial and/or industrial buildings on how the Government Economic Response Package will effect them.
You are also invited to sign up to a closed Facebook group from our NZ wide network for members to share experiences, advice and issues around coronavirus. The group now has 1,500 members and is becoming a key channel of communication for NZ businesses seeking to manage this risk.
There is also a private LinkedIn group for manufacturers from our NZ wide network titled NZ Manufacturers Network.
A list of the essential businesses:
Essential businesses provide the necessities of life. You can find the list here of these businesses. You can also read a Question & Answer on this for business.
Essential services in the transport sector (25 March 2020):
This information provides an explanation of those businesses and their workers, carrying out essential services in the transport sector who will not be subject to travel restrictions.
Check if you are able to operate as an essential business: MBIE: 0508 373-388.
Fees for border exception 'expressions of interest' (10 August 2020)
From 10 August ImmigrationNZ will be charging fees for border exception ‘Expressions of Interest’ (EOIs), and temporarily suspending overseas visa applications for three months. (There are some temporary entry class visa applications which are not affected including the RSE visas). You can find out more here.
Getting skills from overseas (18 June 2020)
NZ’s border remains closed, and tighter rules for importing ‘critical’ workers were released recently: they must have skills that are needed for critical projects and are not available here, must be paid over $106,080 per annum, and the employer must pay for quarantine. Other than critical workers, it may become harder to import or retain migrant staff more generally, as many New Zealanders have been laid off and are now available for employment.
ImmigrationNZ - border exceptions (12 June 2020)
The Minister of Immigration has announced changes to border exception criteria that has come into effect this week. These are steps to safely help reunite NZ families. You can read more on this here.
Immigration Bill (4 May 2020)
A Bill to temporarily amend immigration legislation to support the quick and efficient management of visa changes during COVID-19 is being introduced to Parliament on 5 May. The Bill proposes to introduce eight key legislative changes that will enable visa conditions and settings to be made by the Immigration Minister. As the Bill is going through an accelerated process, we will be providing feedback through the BusinessNZ network. You can find out more here.
Immigration NZ announce relaxed visa conditions for essential services (16 April 2020)
The Government has agreed to relax visa conditions for a short period to allow temporary migrant workers and international students to further assist with our essential services during the COVID-19 response, says Immigration New Zealand. You can find out more here.
Immigration NZ FAQs (15 April 2020)
Immigration NZ are working on how we will operate under alert level 3, with health and safety a prime consideration. Here are some useful FAQs on relaxing visa conditions, exceptions for people to travel to NZ, extensions of visas under epidemic management notice, visa flexibility, deferral of visa programmes, and general travel for migrants. You can read more here.
Temporary visas can be extended (25 March 2020):
All INZ’s overseas and on-shore offices are now closed due to the escalation to Alert Level 4. Reduced staff in NZ are prioritising urgent tasks. No other visa applications can be processed at this time.
Urgent immigration queries only: 0508 225 288
These factsheets summarise the immigration issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Moving to Alert Level 3 webinar (21 April 2020) - with Paul MacKay, Manager Employment Relations Policy and Paul Jarvie the Manager Employment Relations and Safety from the EMA. You can listen to the webinar here.
An immigration briefing from ImmigrationNZ and BusinessNZ (2 April 2020), along with an introduction by Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, you can access here.
OSEA and Polson Higgs business Covid-19 webinar (31 March 2020), with our Senior Solicitor, David Browne and Polson Higgs Partner, Henry van Dyk. They spoke about the implications on employment relations and the likely financial impact on business and business continuity planning. You can access the webinar here.
The EMA in partnership with ATEED and the Regional Business Partner Network has also launched a free web series.
BusinessNZ has launched the Update podcast to give you the essential business news you need direct from the source for frequent updates from host Grant Walker relevant to your business.
Callaghan Innovation covid R&D fund (29 June 2020)
Businesses with R&D funding impacted by covid-19 can apply for a Callaghan Innovation loan of up to $400k. The Government has dedicated $150 million for the scheme which will help R&D performing businesses continue their activities. The loans will be interest-free if repaid within the first year, with instalments not compulsory for the first three years. To find out more please visit Callaghan Innovation’s R&D loan webpage.
Changes to the Overseas Investment Act (16 June 2020)
There have been some amendments to the OIA which came into force recently and impact on overseas investors looking to invest in or purchase New Zealand businesses. You can find out more here.
ACC payments (19 June 2020)
As part of ACC’s plan for helping reduce the immediate impact of covid-19 on businesses, they have delayed all invoicing by three months. Invoices for the 2020/21 financial year which would usually have been sent from 1 July will now be issued in October. If you would like to invoiced as per normal, you can find out how to do this here.
MSD new online free recruitment tool (6 May 2020)
The new online recruitment tool connects employers with people looking for work. Employers are able to list jobs on the platform and anyone looking for work can register and apply for them directly. It’s a free service, linking employers directly with people looking for jobs. The tool can be accessed here. The Ministers release is here.
Managing coronavirus risk in the workplace
A full check-list managing coronavirus risk in the workplace.
Working from Home Policy
View the working from home policy from the EMA here.
Health & Safety at work - advice for essential businesses
Worksafe have some advice for safe work practices to limit exposure to covid-19 at work for essential businesses.
Covid-19 Workplace & Scenario Guideline
This guideline provides steps and scenarios for both employers and employees to help keep their work environment safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Disruption Planning for Employers
This CECC guide provides a comprehensive plan to support employers through disruption from major environmental or economic events.
An update from Prof Phillip Hill, Specialist Infectious Disease Physician on Covid-19
If you would like to find out more about the coronavirus, you can listen to Professor Philip Hill who is the McAuley Professor of International Health at the University of Otago. Philip is also a specialist infectious diseases physician.
How to lead (and participate) in successful remote meetings
The Regional Business Partner Network Growth Advisors take a birds-eye look at your whole business, then help you connect with the right resources and experts so you can build capability and grow.
Please call to talk with your Growth Adviser:
Otago – Tara Druce: email@example.com or 021 216-6543
Southland: firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 211 1400
MFAT monitoring international supply chains (8 June 2020)
As part of its work to ensure international supply chains function as well as possible through covid, MFAT has been using its network to monitor how international sea and airports, and domestic logistics are operating. This fortnightly report provides a snapshot of how international supply chains are functioning, as well as international actions to support supply chains, and issues of interest to New Zealand firms. Find out more here.
Connect with NZs export community (June 2020)
A new myNZTE portal has just gone live with support and resource for exporters online. This will help you to navigate your export journey. Discover tools and resources to gain insight into your business and connect with New Zealand’s export community. Find out more here.
NZTE have launched a resource-sharing platform for businesses to connect with other NZ businesses that may need to have extra resource at this time. This is for urgent or timely requests or offers that have come about due to the disruption in the businesses supply chain, and is organised into sector/solution forums such as freight, temporary storage, supplies, business services and staff availability.
How to operate safely in a covid-19 environment
The Meat Industry Association has created some guidelines to their members on how to operate safely in a covid-19 environment which can be found here.
The primary industries
The Ministry for Primary Industries has asked for assurances from industries and businesses that their processes protect workers and the public by limiting interactions and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19. Read more.
Air Freight update
The Government has allocated $330m out of the covid-19 relief package to support air freight capacity.
Air New Zealand is now operating international freight services. These flights are operated on a charter basis, co-ordinated by NZTE. Read more. Other proposals are also being considered from other airlines and air freighters.
Air Freight Service Update
Please see this resource for an overview of carrier schedule changes to/from New Zealand due to COVID-19.
NZ Trade with China (StatsNZ)
StatsNZ has released provisional indications around the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on New Zealand trade with China. This webpage presents New Zealand’s daily export trade with China from 27 January 2020 and compares 2020 values with those from previous years, to show the potential impacts of Covid-19 since its outbreak in late 2019.
NZ economy: unchartered waters (June 2020)
The NZ economy is ploughing through unchartered waters after covid, according to the BusinessNZ Planning Forecast. It shows large reductions in output in the June quarter, significant impacts on many sectors, and deeply negative business sentiment. On the positive side, the economy is still in better shape than many other countries, with the ability to take on more debt if needed.
Covid economic data (18 June 2020)
Covid-19’s effect on the economy was laid bare in economic data released recently. NZ’s GDP fell 1.6% in the March 2020 quarter, a greater quarterly drop than any during the global financial crisis. BusinessNZ surveys showed a slight pickup in the manufacturing and services sectors during the last month, they were still in negative territory: PMI and PSI results were both below 40 (index readings under 50 indicate a sector is declining).
Second wave deadly to economy (June 2020)
A second wave of covid-19 would be a greater shock to the economy, says the OECD. The latest OECD Outlook says if there are no further outbreaks, NZ’s economy will likely reduce by 9% this year, recovering to 2019 levels by end of 2021. But a second wave of infections - the double-hit scenario - would see GDP reduce by 10% and a recovery period beyond 2021. NZ’s fiscal and monetary policy should remain expansionary to support recovery, especially in a double-hit scenario, the OECD says.
If you need any assistance, please talk with our lawyers
David Browne | Senior Solicitor/Legal Team Manager | 03 456 1812 | 021 225 6938 | email@example.com
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a) It was not fair and reasonable for the employer to say on the one hand that they had applied for the subsidy and would use best endeavours to keep staff, and then on the other hand to withdraw those staff members names from the subsidy application (Section 103A)
b) The employer did not meet it’s obligations under the Act to consult with affected staff, seek a response to the redundancy proposal, and genuinely consider the response (Section 4)
Both of these were a breach of the employers good faith obligation