Last week, the Government announced an extension to its Covid-19-related support payments to businesses, organisations and employees across the motu. Here is what you need to know, and your rights as an employee
The Covid-19 Wage Subsidy are payments from the Government to employers, to ensure that employees unable to come into work due to movement restrictions are paid. Applications for the second Covid-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021, known as Wage Subsidy August 2021 #2, are open for two weeks until 11.59pm Thursday 16 September 2021.
Payments will be made weekly to employers so they can pay their staff, and the amount varies between full, part time, and hours fluctuate and casual employees. Employees that have been included in the subsidy will be paid at least 80% of their wages, with all of the subsidy to be used only to pay employees.
Much like the RSP, businesses must meet certain criteria before they can receive the Wage Subsidy. Businesses must be expecting at least a 40% revenue decline because of the Alert Level change over a period of 14 consecutive days between the period 31 August 2021 and 13 September.
Under the Privacy Act, employees have the right to request access to the information that employers have provided to the Ministry of Social Development. Employers are also unable to require employees to use their annual holidays or sick leave, leave without pay, or other leave entitlements. The wage subsidy also does not change the terms and conditions in the employment agreement. Being asked to use leave entitlements or make any changes to the terms in employment agreements cannot be done unless the changes have been discussed and agreed with you in good faith and are in writing.
Also reinstated from previous lockdowns is the Resurgence Support Scheme (RSP),
a one-off payment to businesses and organisations that meet specific criteria, should the Government decide to activate it whenever the Covid-19 alert level rises to level two or higher. Businesses that are facing a reduction in revenue of at least 30% may apply for the scheme. A 30% decline in capital raising ability over a seven day period due to the alert levels is also an accepted prerequisite.
All businesses, whether large or smaller and communal, may apply for the RSP should they meet the eligible criteria. Should an application be approved, businesses may apply for the lesser of:
- $1,500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, up to a maximum of 50 FTEs
- Four times the actual revenue decline experienced by the applicant
The payment is intended to help businesses cover fixed costs, such as rent, and was originally for businesses at least six months old. However, this has been reduced to at least one month.
Businesses are able to apply for the RSP from Thursday 9th September, and Inland Revenue will contact applicants who had previously been declined under the particular requirement.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson states that he understands the difficulties that businesses face under heightened Alert Levels, and encourages people to apply for the scheme.
“We know that many businesses are doing it tough during these heightened Alert Levels” .