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Coronavirus: FAQs And Resource Hub For Employers

Coronavirus: FAQs And Resource Hub For Employers

14 August Update – Auckland to Stay at Alert Level 3

On 14 August 2020, the New Zealand Government announced that there will be no change to the current alert levels, but they have been extended, as follows:

  • Auckland will remain at alert level 3 until at least 11:59pm Wednesday 26 August 2020
  • The rest of New Zealand will remain at alert level 2 until at least 11:59pm Wednesday 26 August 2020
  • Aged Care facilities remain in Alert Level 4
  • Alert levels will be reviewed 21 August 2020

The wage subsidy scheme will be extended nationwide to cover the period of time that the current alert level 3 restrictions remain in place. Further details will be confirmed.

What Do I Need to Do?

Step 1:  Review the impact

If you have not already done so, confirm if your workplace is affected, if you can continue operating and what restrictions apply. You can download our fact sheet on the alert levels below and access further details for each Alert Level here.

Step 2: Ensure you are COVID Safe

If your business can continue operating with the restrictions, download and review our COVID Safe resources here and complete a COVID Safe Plan in consultation with your workers to identify risks and ways to manage them. Implement any changes required in line with alert level restrictions and monitor these for effectiveness. If you are a client, contact the Advice Team before implementing the COVID Safe Resource Pack if you need specific advice and further assistance.

Step 3:  Running your business if you are not able to operate as normal

  • Additional support may be available to you, including the extended wage subsidy.
  • If your business has been forced to close or scale back operations, communicate and consult with your workers in relation to any changes to employment terms and conditions (such as pay or hours). If you are a client, contact the Advice Team for specific advice and further assistance.
  • Ensure you are displaying a COVID Tracing App QR Code, refer here for more information.

FREE Coronavirus Documents for Employers

Alert Level Changes

Documents recently updated with the latest Alert Level changes:

COVID Safety Plan

Preparing your business and your workplace for the new realities of COVID-19 will be essential, now and for the long term. Get the essential templates and tools to assess your workplace, prepare your business and protect your people.

Want to download all the above documents? Click here.

Other documents:

 

Exclusive Webinars – Navigating The Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus: FAQ and Resource Hub For Employers

In our free webinars, specialists from Employsure offer you a clear path in order to navigate the days, weeks and months ahead during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

A must watch event for any employer, our webinar topics continually change with the latest information. Keep tuning in.

To find a register, visit here.

 

What Do the Alert Levels Mean?

New Zealand has a four-level alert system to manage and minimise the risk of COVID-19 (the “Coronavirus”). Each alert level provides public health, social measures and guidance for businesses.

Please be aware that this fact sheet provides information and general advice based on the public information available at the time of publication. Alert levels and restrictions can change quickly, so always review the details of the latest government advice. The Government has provided detailed information on alert levels and what they mean for people and businesses here.

What Alert Level Are We In?

The below alert levels apply:

  • Aged Care Facilities – Alert Level 4
  • Auckland – Alert Level 3
  • Rest of NZ – Alert Level 2

This will last until 11:59pm Wednesday, 26 August 2020.

Alert Level 1

Alert Level 1 is the least restrictive. New Zealanders are asked to prepare in case the alert level changes, and to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

There is no requirement for physical distancing and no size limits to gatherings.

Alert Level 2

Most businesses can operate in Alert Level 2, provided they can do so safely and meet public health requirements, including physical distancing and contact tracing.

Businesses are encouraged to use alternative ways of working if possible.

Close contact services can operate if they meet public health measures including robust record keeping, good hygiene practices and minimised contact to the extent possible. If a workplace cannot meet these measures it cannot open its physical premises.

At all times when outside the home, everyone under Alert Level 2 is required to practice good hygiene, monitor their health, track their movements and wear face coverings if they can. All gatherings (such as weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga) are restricted to 100 people.

Alert Level 3

Not all businesses are able to open under Alert Level 3. Essential services including healthcare, justice services and businesses providing necessities are able to open.

Non-essential workplaces can only open if:

  • workers cannot work from home, and
  • workplaces are operating safely, and
  • customers are not allowed on premises, and
  • businesses can trade without physical contact with customers (e.g. through phone/online orders, delivery, pick-up and drive-through).

Physical distancing of 2 metres outside the home is encouraged – this does not apply to emergency and frontline public services (e.g. healthcare). It is highly recommended that everyone wear face coverings when out and about. Gatherings of up to 10 people can continue, but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures should be maintained.

People at high risk of severe illness such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home.

Alert Level 4

Only essential services are able to open under Alert Level 4 (eg. Supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and petrol stations).

People are instructed to stay at home other than for essential personal movement. All gatherings are cancelled and all public venues closed.

In New Zealand, all aged care facilities are in alert level 4, with no visitors allowed and staff limited to working at single sites.

What Do I Need To Do From A Health And Safety Perspective?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has the primary duty of care to ensure that the health and safety of workers and others are not put at risk.

What you need to do from a health and safety perspective will depend on your location, industry and if you are operating.

However, no matter what, all businesses should:

  • Follow the Ministry of Health’s advice
  • Create a COVID Safe Plan. Identify any risks associated with the Coronavirus, implement any changes to controls that allow you to comply with specific Alert Level restrictions and monitor their effectiveness
  • Follow any industry-specific guidance
  • Follow all normal health and safety obligations

Remember that your health and safety obligations also extend to other people on your premises. Consider any additional personal protective equipment (PPE) which will be required in your workplace, such as face coverings. Your PPE policy should take into account anyone on-site including employees, customers or independent contractors.

Keep in mind that if an employee is working from home, the employer’s health and safety obligations extend to that part of the home as it is considered a workplace.

What Do I Need To Do From An Employment Relations Perspective?

An employer must meet their employment obligations, which includes complying with agreements, policies and employment standards.

If you are not able to operate you have an obligation to consult with workers regarding alternatives such as working from home, reduced hours or leave. If any changes to employment terms and conditions (such as pay or hours) need to occur, these should happen after a fair and reasonable consultation process, with any agreed changes recorded in writing. If you are making changes to some employees and not others, make the decision based on objective selection criteria.

The specific process to follow will depend on the type of change and the individual employees so contact the Advice Team for specific guidance.

If your employees are working from home, ensure you have appropriate policies. Make sure you have up to date contact details for all employees and keep in contact with them.

How Do I Pay My Employees?

This will depend on if you are operating, if your employees are currently working, or if they themselves are unable to work.

If your employees are ready, willing and able to work, the general position is that you must pay them their normal wage or salary even if you can’t provide them with work. If you wish to make changes:

  • Discuss alternatives and reach an agreement with employees (for example reduced hours, leave without pay or taking annual leave)
  • Follow restructure processes to make changes due to financial or operational reasons
  • Direct employees to take annual leave after consulting with them

If an employee is not able to attend work, discuss any availability of sick leave, annual leave, special leave or leave without pay.

The above options may require a process in order to carry them out safely, so reach out to the Advice Team for specific guidance and documentation support.

Official Government Sources

Make sure you’re getting only correct, official health and travel from Government sources. Resources are listed below:

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