Who can get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

Employers, including self-employed people, and their employees need to meet certain criteria to apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should complete a contact tracing form with the Ministry of Health. They can also use this to apply for welfare support if they need it.

The Ministry of Health also has advice for people with COVID-19, and information for Household and Close Contacts.

From 14 March 2022, you can only apply for the Leave Support Scheme within 8 weeks of the day the employee's self-isolation period ends if the period ended on or after that date. You can still apply for employees whose self-isolation period ended before 14 March 2022.

Information

We also have the Short-Term Absence Payment available for your employees who must self-isolate while they wait for a COVID-19 PCR test result.

Find COVID-19 support for businesses

To be eligible for the Leave Support Scheme your business (including self-employed people) must meet all the following criteria:

Your employee must meet health criteria

Your business must have been advised by your employee that they cannot work due to one of the following reasons. This also applies to self-employed people.

You must have been advised by your employee that they cannot go to work, are unable to work from home and are self-isolating in line with public health guidance or have been advised to self-isolate because they:

  • have COVID-19
  • are a contact of a person who has COVID-19
  • are the parent or caregiver of a dependant who has COVID-19 or is a contact of a person who has COVID-19
  • are in the category of people most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and have been advised by a medical practitioner (eg a GP) to self-isolate
  • have household members in the category of people who are most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The employee must be self-isolating for at least 4 consecutive days. This may include a day the employee is not scheduled to work, is on leave, or a public holiday. The Ministry of Health website has information about self-isolation, including advice for people with COVID-19, and information for Household and Close Contacts.

If you've just hired an employee who hasn't started work yet, and they meet this criteria, you can apply for them. You also need to make sure you meet the other criteria on this page.

Applications under Phases 1 and 2

Different health criteria applied for employees during Phases 1 and 2 of the Government’s Omicron plan, compared with Phase 3.

Under Phase 1 (26 January 2022 to 11.59pm 15 February 2022) people were required to self-isolate if they either:

  • had COVID-19 (were required to self-isolate for 14 days)
  • were a close contact of someone who had COVID-19 (were required to self-isolate for 10 days).

Under Phase 2 (16 February 2022 to 11.59pm 24 February 2022) people were required to self-isolate if they either:

  • had COVID-19 (were required to self-isolate for 10 days)
  • were a household contact of someone who had COVID-19 (were required to self-isolate for 10 days)
  • were a close contact, but not a household contact, of someone who had COVID-19 (were required to self-isolate for 7 days).

Employment types and numbers of hours worked

You can apply for Leave Support Scheme for employees including (but not limited to those) who are:

  • full-time
  • part-time
  • casual – employees on casual contracts must be working for you over the subsidy period you are applying for
  • fixed-term
  • seasonal workers.

There are two rates for Leave Support Scheme, depending on what hours your employee usually works. These rates are:

  • full-time rate, for employees who usually work 20 hours or more a week
  • part-time rate, 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.

Employees who are not covered

The Leave Support Scheme cannot be paid for employees, or self-employed people, who:

  • are 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
  • are required to self-isolate because they have come to New Zealand from overseas
  • are a New Zealander currently overseas
  • employed as an air crew member and required to comply with any orders
  • are unable to work for any other reason, for example, bereavement or because childcare is not available for an employee’s children
  • are already getting the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme for the same period.

You must prepare and retain evidence

You must prepare and retain evidence to support your 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 you apply for.

You must be an eligible employer, which includes:

  • registered businesses
  • registered charities
  • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
  • the self-employed and sole traders
  • incorporated societies
  • post-settlement governance entities
  • local government organisations (eg local councils)
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Mixed Model Companies.

State sector organisations

State sector organisations are generally not eligible to get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. This includes:

  • government agencies, such as:
    • Ministry of Health
    • District Health Boards
    • Inland Revenue
    • Ministry of Social Development
  • Crown entities, such as:
    • Kāinga Ora
    • Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
  • state and state-integrated schools
  • tertiary education institutions, such as:
    • universities
    • polytechnics
    • institutes of technology
    • wānanga

State sector organisations do not include:

  • local Government, such as:
    • regional councils
    • city councils
    • district councils
  • kindergartens
  • some early childhood services
  • health and disability facilities or services that receive funding from government agencies.

A state sector organisation can ask for an exception to become eligible to apply for the Leave Support Scheme. State sector organisations should contact their monitoring agency if they wish to discuss this.

Businesses contracted to provide services to state sector employers

These businesses (eg cleaning, security, the health and disability funded workforce, etc) are not state sector employers. They can apply for the Leave Support Scheme if they meet the other qualifications.

Your business must be in New Zealand

Your business must be registered (except for self-employed people) and operating in New Zealand. This means your business:

  • physically located in New Zealand, and
  • your employees are employed in New Zealand.

Sole traders

Sole traders must have:

  • a personal or business IRD number for paying income tax and GST
  • government licences and permits for their business needs, and
  • qualifications or registrations for their trade or profession.

Sole traders must still meet the requirements to be physically located and employed in New Zealand.

You must have had a conversation with your employee

You must:

  • discuss an application with your employees before making it
  • get their consent to the relevant points outlined in the declaration
  • agree that they fall into one of the affected groups, and
  • confirm that they cannot work from home.

Employment New Zealand has guides for leave and pay, health and safety, and workplace changes, and how these relate to the Leave Support Scheme:

When you apply, you'll need to confirm that you've read, understood and agree to a declaration. That includes declaring you've confirmed with your employee that they meet the health criteria.

You must agree to and meet your obligations

When you apply for Leave Support Scheme you're asked to read, agree to and meet some obligations. This is to make sure you're using the payment correctly, and you're following employment law.

Your obligations include:

  • retaining the employees you apply for the Leave Support Scheme for
  • following employment law
  • retaining evidence to show you met all of the criteria for the Leave Support Scheme
  • doing your best to pay your employees at least 80% of their ordinary wages or salary
  • not forcing employees to take leave
  • repaying any payment that you are no longer entitled to.