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COVID-19: Employment and work visas

Government guidance and advice for employers and visa holders affected by COVID-19.

On this page:

Making changes to employment agreements

Many people’s working arrangements have changed due to the effects of COVID-19. Where there has been agreement to change the working arrangements, an employee’s employment agreement must be updated to reflect the changes. These may be things such as a change in operating hours.

In the first instance, you should discuss and agree these changes with your employee. Then follow up your conversation with a new employment agreement or a signed letter of variation. 

Letter of variation [DOCX, 21 KB]

Having the agreed terms and conditions in writing is a legal requirement, whether the change is temporary or permanent.

Modifying or terminating employee agreements during COVID-19 (external link) — Employment NZ

Employee redundancy

Temporary changes to parental leave

Temporary changes to parental leave law have been made in response to COVID-19. The law changes will allow some workers on parental leave to temporarily go back to work without losing their entitlements. Visit Employment New Zealand for more information.

Temporary changes to parental leave law due to COVID-19 (external link)  — Employment New Zealand

Minimum wage increase

If you have employees on minimum wage, note that on 1 April 2020, the minimum wage rates went up. Employment New Zealand has guidance for handling the increase.

COVID-19 and the minimum wage (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Young employees

If you employ school-aged students, their work hours must return to being outside of school hours only and not between 10pm and 6am. Employment New Zealand has more information about young employees.

Young employees (external link)  — Employment New Zealand

Self-isolating

Employers and employees need to work together as we unite for the recovery, protect New Zealand and keep each other safe.

This means that normal obligations to keep in regular contact and to act in good faith are more important than ever.

Employment New Zealand has specific guidance in response to COVID-19 including how to handle self-isolation and leave.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the workplace (external link) — Employment New Zealand

If you have questions about handling information about an employee that self-isolates or displays possible COVID-19 symptoms, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has guidance to help.

Can staff be told an employee might have COVID-19? (external link)  — The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Can staff be told about an employee returning from overseas that self-isolates with possible COVID-19 symptoms? (external link)  — The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Travel and visas

There is updated criteria for critical workers seeking to enter New Zealand on work visas. There have also been automatic extensions to work visas which had an expiry up to 9 July 2020.

COVID-19: Key updates (external link)  — New Zealand Immigration

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