Who could get the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

This subsidy has ended, but there's other support you can apply for.

Information

This payment is no longer available. Find other COVID-19 business support.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021 was available from 1pm on 4 March 2021 to 11:59pm on 21 March 2021. It was to help employers and self-employed people keep paying staff and protect jobs impacted by the alert level changes on 28 February 2021.

Who could apply

New Zealand businesses who had or expected to have a 40% decline in revenue over a consecutive 14-day period between 28 February and 21 March, compared to a typical 14-day period between 4 January and 14 February 2021 (6 weeks before the change in alert levels), would have been able to get it.

Businesses with highly seasonal revenue could compare their decline in revenue to the same period of 14 consecutive days in 2020 or 2019.

This payment was available to businesses throughout New Zealand.

The subsidy was to allow businesses to keep paying their employees, and it acknowledged the impact on businesses because of the rise in alert levels.

Criteria you needed to meet:

  • You must be an eligible employer

    Employers who were significantly impacted by the rise in COVID-19 alert levels were eligible to apply.

    This included:

    • registered charities
    • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
    • the self-employed and sole traders
      • if you were also an employee of a business, your employer could also apply for the Wage Subsidy March 2021 for you
    • contractors
    • incorporated societies, and
    • post-settlement governance entities
    • local government organisations
    • kindergartens and Early Childhood Centres.

    If you were an eligible employer, you could apply:

    • for casual employees, if they were employed by you at the time you applied, and they would have expected to work while you were getting the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021
    • if you're a shareholder in a business (ie, you work for the business and are paid a wage, salary or draw an income for the work you do)
    • if you're a partner in a business (ie, each partner is paid a wage, salary or draws an income for the work they do).

    You could not apply for an employee on ACC earnings related compensation. But you could apply for them if they had returned to work and were no longer getting ACC.

    State sector organisations

    State sector organisations were generally not eligible to get the Wage Subsidy March 2021. This included:

    • 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
    • Early Childhood Centres
    • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

    A state sector organisation, with its monitoring agency, could ask for an exception to become eligible to apply for the Wage Subsidy. State sector organisations needed to contact their monitoring agency to discuss this. A state sector organisation that had already been granted an exception for a previous COVID-19 payment did not need to apply for an exception for the Wage Subsidy March 2021.

    Businesses contracted to provide services to state sector employers

    These businesses (eg cleaning, security, etc) are not state sector employers. They could apply for the subsidy if they met the other qualifications.

  • Your employees must have been legally working in New Zealand

    Legally working in New Zealand means a person is both working in New Zealand and is legally entitled to work in New Zealand.

    A person is legally entitled to work in New Zealand if they:

    • are a New Zealand or Australian citizen (including a person born in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau), or
    • have a New Zealand residence class visa (eg, permanent residence visa or returning resident visa), or
    • have a New Zealand work visa or a condition on their New Zealand temporary visa that allows them to work in New Zealand (eg, work visa or student visa that allows them to work).

    For more information, visit the Employment New Zealand website.

  • You must have had a 40% decline in revenue related to the rise in alert levels

    To qualify, your business needed to have experienced or expected a 40% decline in revenue over a consecutive 14-day period between 28 February and 21 March, compared to a typical 14-day period between 4 January and 14 February 2021 (6 weeks before the change in alert levels).

    Some businesses with highly seasonal revenue were able to compare their decline in revenue to the same period of 14 consecutive days that the business chose in 2020 or 2019.

    This was available to businesses throughout New Zealand.

    The decline must have been related to the rise to Alert Level 3 on 28 February 2021.

    Definition of revenue

    Revenue means the total amount of money a business has earned from its normal business activities, before expenses are deducted (this doesn't include the Wage Subsidy).

    Your revenue does not include any payments you've received for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, Short-Term Absence Payment, or the Resurgence Support Payment from Inland Revenue.

    If you are a pre-revenue research and development start-up business that is affiliated with Callaghan Innovation, you can include a drop in projected capital income when determining a 40% decrease in revenue.

  • You must have mitigated the financial impact

    Your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19.

    This could include:

    • drawing from your cash reserves (as appropriate)
    • activating your business continuity plan
    • making an insurance claim
    • proactively engaging with your bank
    • seeking advice and support from:
      • the Chamber of Commerce
      • a relevant industry association
      • the Regional Business Partner programme.
  • You must have retained the employees you applied for

    You must have retained the employees named in your application for the period of the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021.

    For businesses that applied for the Wage Subsidy March 2021 between 4 March 2021 and 7 March 2021, the period of the subsidy began on 8 March 2021.

    For businesses that applied for the Wage Subsidy March 2021 from 8 March 2021, the period of the subsidy began from the date of application.

    • Employers were required to agree that, for the duration of the Wage Subsidy March 2021, they would retain the employees the subsidy was paid for.

    If you were receiving the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021, you must have:

    • tried your hardest to pay staff at least 80% of their usual wages;
      • if that was not possible, pay at least the rate of the Wage Subsidy March 2021
      • if the employee's usual wages were lower than the rate of the Wage Subsidy March 2021, continued paying that amount for the duration of the subsidy.

    You could not apply for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021 for an employee if you had already given that employee a notice of redundancy, unless you withdrew the redundancy notice.

  • If you were already getting a COVID-19 payment from us

    You can't get more than one COVID-19 payment from us for the same employee at the same time.

    This includes the:

    • Short-Term Absence Payment
    • Leave Support Scheme and
    • COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021

    You also could not receive the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy March 2021 more than once for an employee.

    You could get the Inland Revenue COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment at the same time as one of the above payments.