Minimum wage increase
Government announced last Friday that the Minimum Wage will increase by 6% from $20.00 to $21.20 per hour effective 1 April 2022.
This is a substantial increase and members who have staff on, or close to the minimum wage, will need to give careful consideration to how they will be able to pass on or recover increased costs.
Return to work options for close contacts
The Government has announced that there will be two pathways for close contacts to return to work early during their self-isolation period. More details on these options are set out below however, there is still some uncertainty and we are seeking clarification on the details. The relevant Government websites have been updated multiple times since the announcement, and this is our best understanding at the time of writing. We will provide further updates as information becomes available.
In addition, we note the following:
- Regardless of the traffic light level, all businesses can continue to operate.
- These new pathways take effect at Phases 2 and 3 of the Omicron response. It is expected we will move to Phase 2 when there are approx. 1,000 cases per day.
If a worker is identified as a contact there are two pathways:
Pathway 1: Bubbles of One [Phase 2 and 3]
Workers who can operate in a ‘bubble of one’ will not need to register and will not require a rapid antigen test to return to work.
This pathway is available to all businesses and there is no limit on the number of ‘bubbles of one’ you can have in your business. To maintain a bubble of one, that worker would also need to follow protocols around distancing, mask wearing, etc and must also travel to work as a bubble of one. We envisage this pathway may apply for guards working alone on non-customer facing sites and for patrol officers, particularly when conducting external checks. Additional procedures may be required to avoid situations such as patrol musters and supervisor checks.
If your worker is a close contact of someone with Covid-19, they can continue to work as a bubble of one (whether indoors or outdoors) during their self-isolation period if they are:
- asymptomatic; and
- not customer facing.
Pathway 2: Close contact exemption scheme [Phase 2 and 3]
This option is only available to “critical sectors”.
Whilst “Security” is not specifically covered within the broad definition of critical sectors, we fall within the criteria category “Other critical public services that will cause significant social, economic or physical harm to the community if temporarily closed”.
To use this pathway, your business will need to register as a critical service via Business Connect.
Workers returning to work under this option will need to carry evidence of their registration, as well as a “critical worker authorisation letter” from the business.
This pathway allows close contacts to continue to work during their self-isolation period if they are:
- asymptomatic; and
- return a negative rapid antigen test prior to each day/shift they are at work during the isolation period. Rapid antigen tests can be either supplied by businesses (if available) or accessible by the worker from Ministry of Health distribution hubs.
Under this option, workers would also need to follow protocols around mask wearing etc.
Businesses need to register as a critical service, we cannot do this on your behalf.
Feedback already suggests that the processes and requirements are overly complex and open to interpretation.
Further changes are likely – we will keep you posted on relevant developments.
Steps for using Rapid Antigen Tests for business
The Ministry of Health has provided the RAT_for_business_workflow for the use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT’s) for business.
The NZSA team.