Employers and employees need to work together to protect New Zealand and keep each other safe during the global COVID-19 pandemic. 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:
When COVID-19 traffic light settings change, employers and employees should first discuss whether the employee can work normally, how much work is available, and how to work safely at home or at their usual place of work.
If the employee cannot work normally (e.g. their normal number of hours), the employer and employee should discuss what options are available. This page outlines some of those options.
Employee entitlements to leave and pay
It can be difficult to navigate a complex and rapidly changing situation such as with COVID-19. One of the key challenges is working out employee entitlements to leave when the worker cannot go to the workplace or work from home.
If a worker is sick with COVID-19, or required to self-isolate under Ministry of Health guidelines for COVID-19, the first consideration for an employer should be to look after people, contain COVID-19 and protect public health.
Employers should not require or knowingly allow workers to come to a workplace when they are sick with COVID-19 or required to self-isolate (as a suspected case, a close contact, or on return from overseas) 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.
The following table provides guidance to employers and employees about these entitlements.
In all options in this table, the employer and employee should seek first to reach agreement in good faith on what approach will be taken.
* If the employer is receiving a wage subsidy or Leave Support Scheme payment, all named employees must receive a minimum payment depending on their circumstances. For employment advice , talk to your employment lawyer.
There are many options set out in this table and the implications of those options may vary depending on people’s individual circumstances. Parties are strongly encouraged to seek advice to ensure that the options chosen are the best options in the circumstances available.
Contractors and self-employed people
Contractor arrangements are not covered by this guidance. Businesses and contractors can agree to any payment arrangements they wish to.
This article has been extracted from the Employment Law website. For more information please click here.
Cristina Canard is the principal accountant at Apex Accountancy Ltd. Cristina keeps up to date with all the relevant tax changes in New Zealand.