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What financial support is there for businesses in the current COVID-19 climate?

The Government has recently introduced some new financial support packages in an effort to help businesses support their employees. This includes financial support for businesses who have employees that are required to self-isolate or who are awaiting their COVID-19 test results. The Government has on 3 March 2021 announced the terms and conditions of a wage subsidy that will become available, given that Auckland has been moved into Alert Level 3 for seven days.

COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

Businesses can apply for this support package if they have employees who are unable to work from home and who, under public health guidance, have to stay at home while they are awaiting on COVID-19 test results.

The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) is a payment of $350 (regardless of whether the eligible employee is full-time or part-time), which eligible businesses may be able to receive to financially help them pay their employee’s wages while the employee is at home.

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

The Leave Support Scheme has some cross over with the STAP scheme but has a greater focus on supporting businesses who, generally speaking, have employees that cannot work from home and:

  1. Who are sick with COVID-19 and must self-isolate;
  2. Who are caring for a dependent who is sick with COVID-19 and has been directed to self-isolate by a doctor or health official through the National Contact tracing process; or
  3. Who have been directed to self-isolate by a doctor or health official through the National Contact Tracing process.

The Leave Support Scheme has six categories of eligible employees for whom businesses can apply for financial support in respect of. The Scheme provides businesses with $585.80 per week for eligible employees working 20 or more hours per week and $350 per week for eligible employees working less than 20 hours per week. The Leave Support Scheme is a lump sum payment that covers a period of two weeks per eligible employee.

If an eligible employee is required to self-isolate for a period that is longer than two weeks, then businesses are able to make a further application in respect of that employee.

The level of financial assistance offered through the Leave Support Scheme and the STAP scheme are different – so it will be important to understand the eligibility requirements for each scheme from the outset.

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021

The Wage Subsidy March 2021 scheme is available to businesses that have experienced at least a 40% decline in revenue due to the 28 February 2021 rise in Alert Levels. This revenue decline must be over a period of 14 consecutive days between 28 February 2021 and 21 March 2021 when compared to a 14-day period between 4 January 2021 and 14 February 2021 (before the alert level change).

The Wage Subsidy March 2021 subsidy will be a two-week payment at the same rates as previous wage subsidies (i.e. $585.50 per week for employees working 20 or more hours per week and $350 per week for employees working less than 20 hours per week). Applications will open for the Wage Subsidy March 2021 scheme on the Work and Income website at 1pm on 4 March 2021.

Other support such as the Resurgence Support Payment is also available to businesses. When there has been a move to Alert Level 2 or above for a period of seven or more consecutive days, the Government may activate the Resurgence Support Payment. This scheme is a one-off payment that provides support to eligible businesses who have experienced a reduction in revenue due to the Alert Level change. Applications for the February Alert Level 2 and 3 period close on 22 March 2021 and applications for the current period of 7 days in Alert Level 3 open on 8 March 2021.

 

Although we find ourselves in an ever-changing and complex environment, employment law and privacy law continues to apply. If you have any questions about what financial support may be available to your business or how to support your employees, please contact our employment team today.

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