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COVID-19 Leave Payment: Why It Has Been Modified

Published March 18, 2020 (last updated July 14, 2022) -

This blog is up to date as of Tuesday 7 April 2020.

Updated – The New Zealand Government has modified the previously-announced COVID Leave Payment. From Friday 27 March this blog is no longer up to date.

If you’d like to know more about the new Essential Workers Leave Support Scheme, please read this article.

What Is The COVID Leave Payment?

The COVID Leave Payment will be available to support people financially if:

  • they need to self-isolate;
  • cannot work because they are sick with COVID-19; or
  • cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate or who are sick with COVID-19.

On 14 March 2020, the Government announced a directive to arrivals to New Zealand to self-isolate for 14 days. More information about that change can be found here.

When Is It Available?

The COVID-19 Leave Payment will be available for eight weeks from Tuesday 17 March 2020. Employers will be able to apply for this payment more than once.

Who Is Eligible?

Employers, contractors, sole traders and the self-employed may apply for the Payment. The Payment covers full-time, part-time and casual employees, and contractors, who are legally working in New Zealand and who:

  • need to self-isolate in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and have registered as needing to self-isolate with Healthline, and cannot work from home;
  • cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate or who are sick with COVID-19

It will not be accessible for those who have travelled overseas since 16 March, 2020.

How Much Is The Payment?

The payment will be a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 to a person working 20 hours or more per week
  • $350.00 to a person working less than 20 hours per week.

The payment is made by MSD to employers, who will then be required to pass it on to the affected employee. MSD will pay on a fortnightly basis once it receives an application.

Payments can be backdated to 17 March 2020.

Anything Else I Need To Know?

Employers receiving the Payment for employees can receive it for 14 days. As an employee may be asked to self-isolate more than once, employers can apply for the Payment on an ‘as-needed’ basis.

If an employee is absent from work for the above reasons for longer than 14 days, employers can receive the Payment the entire time the employee is sick. However, the employer must apply every 14 days.

Importantly, employees aren’t required to have used all their available paid leave before they can receive this Payment.

Are Any Employers Exempt?

Yes. State sector employer cannot receive the Payment. It is expected that they continue to pay any affected employees their normal wages through any period(s) of self-isolation.

However, the following employers can access the Payment:

  • Councils
  • Kindergartens
  • Early Childcare Centres
  • Non-Government organisations
  • Schools
  • Tertiary Education Institutions, eg:
    • Universities
    • Polytechnics/Institutes of Technology
    • Wananga

To find out more information about how to apply for this Payment, please visit the Ministry of Social Development.

If you’re an employer and would like to know more about your obligations during the Coronavirus outbreak, please visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub for Employers.

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