Essential Update – 25 February 2022 – Phase three Implications

In this update:

Red Light Phase Three – no subsidy except for positive tests and their household contacts

Implications for Policies – you don’t need to change, but may need to widen them

Covid Support Payment – for those significantly affected by Phase 2

Immigration update - Resident visa applications

 

Red Light Phase Three

We are steadily making progress to where no controls will be needed – but for the moment we are now (from today) operating under Phase Three of the Red Light part of the Covid Protection Framework.  What does this mean for you as an employer?

  • Mostly nothing! Phase three does not have any particular requirements for employers – but there are some critical implications:
  • Most important is to recognise that people will now only be required to isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19 or are a household contact of someone what has tested positive. Anyone else in isolation is not “required” to isolate.
  • The Leave Support Scheme is still worded as able to be claimed where an employee is “required” to isolate. You will not be able to claim the subsidy for someone who chooses to isolate (e.g. because they believe they are a close contact) – nor will you get a subsidy if you direct someone to isolate because you are concerned they may be a close contact!
  • If you have an employee who chooses to self-isolate, and they cannot work from home) they will be able to access sick leave, but that will be it.
  • If you require someone to isolate in order to protect you or other workers, and they cannot work from home, you will still have to pay them in full.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but this move will mean everyone should simply view Covid as a sickness – and worry about infecting others no more than for any other illness.

The link below will take you to MoH general guidance for Phases 2 and 3. 

https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-response-planning/omicron-community-what-means-you

We are going to see some larger numbers of isolations and illnesses – we are going to experience real challenges in low numbers of staff at work – so if you have not already done so, now is a good time to plan for staff working from home or for working at low numbers.

 

Implication for Policies

As some of you have seen and actioned, we sent out a couple of draft Covid Policies. While the Covid situation continues to change, the impact on the policies is very minimal, at this stage.

The policies have been written in a way that requires businesses and their staff to follow guidance of Health Officials in the various scenarios. This still stands.

Although those who would have otherwise been considered as a close contact, and required to self-isolate, they will not now be required or eligible to receive the leave subsidies (see above), despite the Government still recommending that they should self-isolate.  But our draft policy wording will still be valid.

This means:

  • There is no incentive for an employee who is a close contact to stay home – by following the government’s advice they will simply be using their sick leave
  • Even if a staff member is a close contact they can continue to work and socialise, while monitoring for symptoms of Covid-19
  • If you, as the employer, are uncomfortable with a staff member coming to work while they are considered a close contact then, rather than require them to stay home until you are comfortable that they are not infected (where you will have to pay them their normal rate), consider finding means of having them at work but isolated in bubbles of one or similar.
  • You may need to expand your policies to cover working at work when a contact?

Refer the following link for general advice re Phase 3:

https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay-safe/about-covid-19/our-response-to-omicron/

 

The Covid Support Payment (CPS)

This subsidy is available for businesses who have experienced a 40% or more drop in revenue after the start of Phase 2 of the Omicron outbreak response.  You will need to show this drop by comparing a 7-day period starting from 16th February 2022 with a continuous (typical) 7-day period somewhere between 5th January 2022 and 15th February 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

Applications for the first payment of this subsidy open on 28th February 2022.  There will be three fortnightly payments available.

Details available at https://www.ird.govt.nz/covid-19/business-and-organisations/covid-19-support-payment-information

 

Immigration Update – Resident Visa next phase

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) released yesterday, further detail on the roll out of Phase 2 of the 2021 Resident Visa Process.

INZ announced that applicants not already invited to apply under Phase 2 will be able to apply from 10.00am on 1 March, however, no application in this group will be assigned for assessment until the end of March.   All applications will then be allocated to immigration officers for processing based on the expiry date of the main applicant’s temporary visa at the time of lodgement of their application.

 

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?

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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

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25 February 2022

Essential Update – 25 February 2022 – Phase three Implications

Read Now >

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