NZ’s Short-Term Absence Payment A Step In The Right Direction

Published February 09, 2021 - [email protected]
NZ Absence Subsidy

The new short-term absence payment is a welcome initiative that will take some strain off business owners doing it tough during the pandemic, according to Employsure, New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisor.

The $350 payment will allow employers to keep paying eligible workers who cannot work from home and need to miss work to stay home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result (in line with public health guidance). It also supports the parent or caregiver of a dependant who is staying home while waiting for their COVID-19 test results as well as household members or secondary contacts of someone who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

“Any initiative that can help business owners get back on their feet easier is welcome, considering everything that has occurred over the past 12 months,” said Employsure Advice Services Leader Gabby Adds.

“This is not just something that will benefit employers and employees financially. It will also help minimise the chance of spreading infection in the workplace, should a worker contract COVID-19, the flu, or similar.”

The one-off payment is available to all registered businesses, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities, incorporated societies, non-government organisations, or post settlement governance entities. It applies to a range of employment types, including full-time, part-time, casual, and fixed-term contracts.

Employers will need to sign a declaration, and can only apply once in a 30-day period for each individual employee, unless otherwise directed by health advice.

Under the scheme, if an employee takes their entitled sick leave to self-isolate, the $350 must be paid towards the worker’s normal salary or wages.

If however, the employee has used up all of their sick leave, their employer should try to pay their employee as if they had worked that day (using the $350 to assist this), but if that is not possible, they must pay at least the full $350 to the employee. If the employee’s usual wages are less than or equal to the subsidy, the employer must pay the employee their usual wages, and carry over the difference to help pay other affected staff.

“While we’ve done extremely well in dealing with the virus here in New Zealand, occasionally cases have fallen through the cracks. It’s at these times testing becomes all the more important,” continued Ms Adds.

“This payment will incentivise employees to be more honest with their employers if they feel sick and are awaiting a COVID-19 test result, without the fear of missing out on being paid.

“Business owners have a key role in helping restart economic growth in the country. I believe small short-term payments are a step in the right direction that will help put us back on track,” she concluded.

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