Payment rate and processing times for the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

How much businesses and self-employed people can get, and application processing times for the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment.

Payment rate

There’s a one-off amount of $359 for each eligible worker while they are staying home waiting for test results. This is regardless of whether they’re working full or part-time.

You can only apply for it once, for each eligible worker, in any 30-day period (unless a health official or doctor tells the worker to get another test).

Payment timeframes

We're working to process and make payments as quickly as we can.

We need to check the information you've given us is the same as what's held by Inland Revenue. If it isn't, there could be a delay.

We cannot give you information about the status of your application over the phone. We'll be in touch as soon as we can.


Inland Revenue is updating their systems between 21 and 28 October. This may delay some COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment applications, because we need to verify your information with Inland Revenue. You can still apply during this time. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

If your application is approved

If your application's approved, we'll email you once the payment has been made. The email will tell you which workers the payment is being made for.

Your bank will use a specific reference - MSD COVID19A.

If you haven't received payment in your account, it may be because we don't have the right bank account number for you. If this is the case, the money will be returned to us and we'll call you.

If your worker has a positive COVID-19 test, you can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme to help pay their wages.

If your application is not approved

If your application is not approved, we'll email you to let you know.

It may not be approved if:

  • the application was completed by a worker (not the business)
  • you applied using the wrong application form
  • the details you gave us don't match those held by Inland Revenue (IR), or
  • you're already getting the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, Short-Term Absence Payment or COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for the workers named in your application.

If you don't agree with our decision to not approve your application, our email will tell you how you can get this reviewed.

If you are a state sector organisation and your application for the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment has not been approved, you'll need to contact your monitoring agency to discuss this.

If you have questions, you can call us on 0800 40 80 40.