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Published 2 May 2023 | 2 min read
New Zealand COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme in 2023
UPDATE: As of Tuesday, 15th August 2023, all remaining COVID-19 requirements have been removed in New Zealand.
The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is still alive and kicking. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Zealand government implemented the scheme back in March 2020 and it has since undergone iterations to provide continued support to businesses and workers.
The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is available to eligible employers to help them support their employees who need to take time off work due to COVID-19. The Scheme provides employers with a payment to help cover the wages of their employees who need to self-isolate while they have COVID-19, or employees who are the parent/caregiver of a dependant who has covid-19 or employees who have been advised by a health professional to stay at home while they are at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
Employers can apply for the Scheme for employees including (but not limited to those) who are:
- casual – employees on casual contracts must be working for you over the subsidy period you are applying for
- seasonal workers.
How much financial assistance is available through the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme?
There are two rates for Leave Support Scheme, depending on what hours your employee usually works. These rates are:
- full-time rate of $600 per week, for employees who usually work 20 hours or more a week
- part-time rate of $359 per week, for employees who usually work less than 20 hours a week.
You can apply for the rate for the weekly hours your employee is usually employed. You and your employee need to agree in writing what their hours would usually be during this period to work out what rate you should apply for.
It is important for employers to have employees’ consent to share their information with MSD and other relevant government bodies under the Privacy Act 2020.
What are the changes to the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme?
Over time there has been some changes to the Scheme and it is important to be aware of those who will not be eligible:
- a household contact of a person who has COVID-19 after 11:59pm 12 September 2022 (before this date, household contacts were required to self-isolate and could therefore apply for Leave Support Scheme)
- a contact of a person who has COVID-19, and your employee has been advised to monitor symptoms but is not required to self-isolate
- chose to self-isolate, even though they are not required to
- a New Zealander currently overseas
unable to work for any other reason, for example, bereavement or because child care is not available for an employee’s children
- are already getting the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme for the same period.
Employers must prepare and retain evidence to support an application. For example, keeping records of employees who are unable to work because they are required to self-isolate for at least 4 consecutive days, and meet the criteria above. This must be done for each employee that is applied for.
How can employers apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme?
To apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, employers can visit the Work and Income website and complete an online application form. Information needed will include, business name, IRD number, and bank account details. Employers must ensure that their employees are unable to work from home in order to apply for the Scheme.
The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is a valuable resource for employers and employees still being affected by COVID-19. Employers can apply for the subsidy online, while employees who need to take time off work due to COVID-19 should follow their usual sick leave process and inform their employer as soon as possible.
For more information, visit Work and Income.