Your obligations for COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

Your obligations when you receive the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme and under employment law.

This payment used to be called 'COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support' because it was only available to essential businesses. It's now called 'COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme' because it's available for all employers returning to work who meet the criteria.

Your obligations and repayment responsibilities are in the declaration you agreed to when you applied.

If you applied when it was:

  • 'Essential Workers Leave Support', the criteria in the declaration will have only included essential businesses.
  • 'COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme', the criteria in the declaration will have included all businesses returning to work.

Your obligations for the use of the payment will be the same, regardless of which declaration you agreed to.

Declarations:

  • An overview of your Leave Support obligations

    To receive the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, you must declare:

    • you operate a business in New Zealand that employs and pays the employees named in the application, and
    • the employees (including themselves if they are a sole trader or self-employed person):
      • are legally employed by your business and
      • are employed in New Zealand and
      • cannot work for you from home and
      • you have been advised by your employee that they:
        • are sick with COVID-19 and must self-isolate until a doctor tells them they can leave isolation, or
        • are identified as someone who has or may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and must self-isolate for a period, for example:
          • a close contact who has been told to self-isolate by a health official through the contact tracing process
          • someone with COVID-like symptoms who meets the Ministry of Health's Higher Index of Suspicion criteria and has been told by a doctor to self-isolate, or
          • casual contacts who have been told to self-isolate by a health official through the contact tracing process, or
        • are a parent or caregiver of a dependant child who has been told to self-isolate for a period and the dependant needs support to do so safely, or
        • are sick with COVID-like symptoms and been told to self-isolate while awaiting a test or test result, and work in a health and disability facility or service that gets funding from:
          • a District Health Board,
          • the Ministry of Health, or
          • the Ministry of Social Development
        • are sick with COVID-like symptoms and work in an aged-care facility or service and have been told to self-isolate while awaiting a test or test result, or
        • are considered 'higher risk' if they contract COVID-19 and a doctor has told them to self-isolate while there's active community transmission, or
        • have household members who are considered 'higher risk' if they contract COVID-19 and a doctor has told them to self-isolate while there is active community transmission
    • you are not currently receiving the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Extension, Resurgence Wage Subsidy, Leave Support Scheme or any other government funding to cover any of the situations in this Leave Support Scheme in respect of any of the employees named in your application
    • to use the Leave Support Scheme to retain and pay your employees:
      • acknowledge that the granting of the application and receipt of Leave Support Scheme does not override existing obligations under the Employment Relations Act or other relevant legislation
      • you will retain the employees named in the application, for the period the payment is paid for those employees
      • not make any changes to your obligations under any employment agreement including rates of pay, hours of work and leave entitlement, without written agreement of the named employee
      • not unlawfully compel or require employees to use their leave entitlements
    • you will only use the subsidy for the purposes of:
      • paying the ordinary wages and salary of the employees named in your application (or you, if you are a sole trader or self-employed person); and
      • meeting your obligations in relation to this subsidy
    • you remain responsible for paying your employees' ordinary wages and salary for the employees named in your application
    • for the period of the Leave Support Scheme you will:
      • use your best endeavours to pay at least 80% of each named employee's usual wages or salary for the duration of the 2-week period
      • pay at least the full amount of the subsidy to the employee; but
      • if the employee's usual wages or salary are lawfully less than the Leave Support Scheme claimed, pay them their usual wages
      • in relation to you if you are a sole trader or self-employed person, the weekly amount that you regularly paid yourself as at the date you applied for this subsidy
    • you have discussed the application with the named employees, who consent to the information in the application being:
      • provided to the Ministry of Social Development and
      • used by the Ministry of Social Development, and shared with other agencies, to make decisions about the application, and to review and audit any Leave Support Scheme granted
    • you have advised your employees you may request access to all information held by the Ministry of Social Development about them, and to request corrections to that information
    • you consent to the information in the application being verified with other agencies
    • you are aware that you may be audited, and if you provide false or misleading information, you may be investigated for fraud
    • you will notify if circumstances change that affect your eligibility, including if any of the employees named in the application end your employment relationship with them
    • you will repay any amount to which you are not entitled if you:
      • fail to meet any of the obligations on how you must use the Leave Support Scheme or
      • were not or stop being eligible for the Leave Support Scheme or
      • provide false or misleading information in your application or
      • receive insurance such as business interruption insurance for any costs covered by the Leave Support Scheme.

    If you applied before 1pm on 21 August 2020

    You must also declare that either:

    • your business had a 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue attributable to COVID-19 (when compared to the same month or 30 day period last year, or a reasonably equivalent month or 30 day period for a business operating less than a year or is a high growth firm), or
    • that the COVID-19 public health restrictions have had a negative impact on your ability to support your employee to take leave.

    This no longer applies if you submitted your application after 1pm on 21 August 2020.

    If you applied before 12pm on 28 September 2020

    You must have been advised by your employee that they are in one of these affected groups:

    • are sick with COVID-19 and required to self-isolate until they are advised by a health professional that they can be released from self-isolation
    • have come into contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 and are required to self-isolate for 14 days (as required by Ministry of Health guidelines) or
    • are deemed 'higher risk' if they contract COVID-19 and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they self-isolate for the duration of the COVID-19 public health restrictions or
    • have household members who are deemed 'higher risk' if they contract COVID-19 and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend the employee also self-isolates to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to other household members.

    You must also use your best endeavours to pay at least 80% of each named employee's usual wages or salary for the duration of the 4 week Leave Support Scheme payment period.

    This no longer applies if you submitted your application after 12pm on 28 September 2020.

  • Your obligations under employment law

    Regular employment law applies to all employment relationships - regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in. This includes anything that has been agreed to in an employment agreement.

    For information on your obligations under employment law, contact Employment NZ on 0800 20 90 20 or visit their website. For example, you might have questions about:

    • employer contributions to KiwiSaver
    • holiday pay
    • annual leave.