Covid-19 Update - Changes to the Covid Response

Essential Update – March 2022

 

In this update:

- Covid-19 Response Update

- Reminder - Minimum Wage Increase

- Reminder - Covid-19 Support Schemes

 

BREAKING NEWS 

Some good news! … for many.  And it was good to hear Jacinda acknowledge this has been “bloody hard”!

The Government have just announced coming changes to our Covid-19 response. The following changes will be made:

Changes to Traffic Lights:

  • Changes to the Red Traffic Light as of 11.59pm Friday 25th March
    • Indoor gatherings and hospitality businesses will be able to increase their capacity limit from 100 people to 200 people – hospitality will still need to require seating
    • All capacity limits for outside gatherings will be removed
    • Mask requirements will still stay in place for indoors
    • Details of the changed requirements will be found through this site: https://covid19.govt.nz/traffic-lights/changes-to-the-traffic-light-system/
  • Changes to the Orange Traffic Light guidelines (as of 11.59pm Friday 25th March)
    • No capacity limits for indoor or outdoor gatherings
  • Green Traffic Light guidance will remain unchanged and there as a guideline

Changes to Vaccine requirements:

  • Vaccine Passes in general will no longer be mandated by the government from 11.59pm Monday 4th April
    • Some businesses and events may still wish to require them (you will need a valid business reason for this – see below)
  • The Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order will be amended such that the education sector, the police and the defence sector will be removed from the list of mandates for businesses who are required to have vaccine passes. (Please see the table below for guidance).
  • Vaccination mandates remain in place for the health sector, aged care facilities, corrections, border control and MIQ facilities. The Government are seeking some advice as to whether the definition of ‘health sector’ can be streamlined.
  • QR code use will not be required, as of this weekend (26th March), for now. Do not throw away your businesses QR scanning codes just yet…

Please consider the following guide as to how your business will need to manage these changes according to how you have implemented the need for vaccinations in your business:

Business situations

What do you need to do now?

Operating under government mandates (Public Health Order or the Traffic light Protection Framework)

The legal need for vaccinations automatically no longer exists.  Consider if your business needs to retain this requirement and, if so, identify the right change process (or H&S review) to keep it in place.  Amend your processes to suit.

Formal H&S assessment undertaken and found a need to be vaccinated as a necessary control

You cannot simply lose this – if you no longer wish to require vaccination, you must undertake a H&S review – because of the changed variant and levels of vaccine the risk may now be considered low?

Have a policy requiring vaccine passes etc

If you no longer need it, consult over the change in policy to bring it into line. Consult with staff to remove policy (not full change process)

Have a clause in IEA requiring vaccination

Change process needed to amend terms of employment – update your standard template to remove this requirement, unless it is justified

Had made a rule requiring that others coming onto site show vaccine passes (eg construction etc)

Can review rule and, if you are happy to follow the government lead, notify affected clients that the rule is no longer in place.

 

 

If you are planning on still requiring staff to be vaccinated or still wish to require vaccination passes, please keep in mind the potential privacy implication around personal medical information.

https://covid19.govt.nz/ will have more information.

We are here to help you navigate these changes so please get in touch.

 

Reminder - Minimum Wage Increase

From 1st April 2022, the minimum wage will increase from $20.00 per hour to $21.20 per hour. This is a 6% increase! The training wage will also increase from $16.00 per hour to $16.96 per hour.

Please refer to our update sent on 15 February 2022 for more comments on this.

If you want to talk through options, we can help.  This is one instance where some advance planning and budgeting may be essential.

 

Reminder – Covid Support Schemes Available

  1. Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme – you could be eligible for a payment of $600 per week (for Full Time Employee) or $359 per week (for Part Time Employee) to assist with paying an Employee who is required to self-isolate because they either have Covid-19 or are a household contact of, or caring for, someone with Covid-19.
  2. Covid Support Payment (CPS) – you may be eligible for a support payment if your business has suffered at least a 40% drop in revenue as a result of certain Covid related criteria.

There are three possible fortnightly payments for different fortnightly payments, ranging from 16th February 2022 to 4th April 2022.

Applications for all three payments close on 5th May 2022.

If you are eligible, you would receive:

- $4,000 per business AND

- $400 per full time employee

This is capped at 50 FTEs or $24,000 and at 8 times the loss of revenue

If you think you may be eligible for this financial support, you can read more and apply at https://www.ird.govt.nz/covid-19/business-and-organisations/covid-19-support-payment

For more information on other financial support available, please got to https://covid19.govt.nz/isolation-and-care/financial-support/

 

Essential HR are here to help.  For ongoing help call us on – 03 3650532, or you can contact Mike directly on 027 2808546 or mike@essentialhr.co.nz.

I’m happy for you to pass this on to others.

And if you need to conference call, we are all set up with Zoom.

 

 

Need help managing staff?

Essential HR has a wealth of experience advising on every aspect of the employer-employee relationship. We can give you per-phone guidance or work along side you to make things happen.

Keeping You Posted

14 July 2022

July Update and advising Mike will be on Annual Leave

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23 March 2022

Covid-19 Update - Changes to the Covid Response

Read Now >
25 February 2022

Essential Update – 25 February 2022 – Phase three Implications

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