NZSA Covid-19 Security Update – Licensing, Resurgence Wage Subsidy and changes to the Leave Support Scheme


Trish McConnell of the PSPLA has provided the following update regarding licensing:

As Wellington remains at Level 2 business is continuing as per normal with all applications being processed in the usual way.

The only issue we have faced to date is that a number of the Auckland post shops are closed and so people are unable to pick up their new certificates/licenses. Anyone who faces this problem can phone or email the PSPLA offices in Wellington and I will issue them with a specific exemption (from wearing the official ID) which they can carry with them while working.

We are still working on the option of printing IDs in house and distributing them by courier mail as a long term option but there are some logistics we need to work through first.


Covid-19 Resurgence Wage Subsidy and changes to the Leave Support Scheme

In response to the latest community outbreak, you have probably seen that the government has announced an additional Covid-19 subsidy and has dropped the revenue test for the Leave Support Scheme for applications made after 1pm on 21 August 2020.

The Covid-19 Resurgence Wage Subsidy is a new two-week payment for businesses who are not receiving Wage Subsidy, Wage Subsidy Extension or the Leave Support Scheme.

Am I eligible?
Yes, if you are a New Zealand employer who has had, or expects to have, a revenue drop of at least 40% because of Covid-19 for a 14 day period between 12 August and 10 September 2020 (compared to a similar period last year).

What do I need to have done?
As in previous schemes, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have taken active steps to reduce the impact of Covid-19. These steps could be:

– Drawing from cash reserves
– Activating your business continuity plan
– Making an insurance claim
– Engaging with your bank, or
– Seeking advice from the Chamber of Commerce, a relevant industry association, or a Regional Business Partner programme.

If you apply for this subsidy, you must retain the employees you’ve applied for.

You must also “try your hardest” to pay these employees at least 80% of their usual salary or wage and, if that is not possible, at least the rate of the Resurgence Wage Subsidy. If their usual salary or wage is less than the subsidy, then you need only pay the lesser amount. Note that ordinary employment law still applies, which means that you cannot use the subsidy as a reason to pay less.

Who can I apply for?
All your employees who are legally working in New Zealand, which includes casual employees if they are employed by you at the time you apply. You can also apply for yourself, if you are a shareholder or partner in a business and are paid a wage, salary or draw an income from the eligible business.

What will I receive?
$585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week (full-time rate) or $350 for people working less than 20 hours per week (part-time rate).

When can I apply?
You can apply for the Resurgence Wage Subsidy from 1pm on 21 August to 3 September 2020.

This is most likely to be from the Work and Income website.

MSD will aim to make the payment within 5 working days from the date of receiving the application. To ensure it is smooth for you, make sure your information matches that held by the IRD (employee details, for instance).

Anything else?
This subsidy, like others before it, will be subject to audits and reviews, and is made available on the basis of the declaration you provide when applying for it, which does create some onerous obligations – so please make sure this is reviewed carefully. We have also seen that MSD has already started expecting businesses to return the previous subsidies following “audits, allegations or investigations”.

Leave Support Scheme
At the same time on 21 August 2020 changes are being made to the Leave Support Scheme. In brief, this support is for eligible employers to pass to employees who are away from work (and cannot work from home) for Covid-19 related reasons. For example, they are awaiting test results, have come into contact with someone who has it, are at a higher risk if they get it, or have household members that mean they cannot be at work.

If you apply for the Leave Support Scheme before 1pm on 21 August 2020, in addition to other criteria, you must show that you have had a 30% decline in revenue (compared to a similar month last year) due to the impacts of Covid-19 or have had your ability to support your employee due to the Covid-19 public health restrictions negatively impacted. From 1pm on 21 August however, no revenue test will apply.

Please also remember that, like for the wage subsidy, you cannot unlawfully compel or require your employees to take any existing paid leave entitlements such as sick leave or annual holidays while you are receiving the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme. Additionally, like other available Covid-19 subsidies, it is provided on the basis of the declaration you make when applying for it – so again, please make sure you review the declaration carefully.

Keep safe.

From the NZSA team.