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COVID-19: Employment

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

New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. Businesses can open but must operate safely.

New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. Businesses can open but must operate safely.

Play it safe, continue to do everything you can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

For more information about operating at Alert Level 2, check out the business.govt.nz page for Workplace operations at Alert Level 2.

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

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

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

Employers and employees need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, 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 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

If you have questions about handling information about an employee that isn’t well, including if there is a serious threat to someone’s safety, wellbeing or health, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has guidance to help.

Is it okay to tell other employees that a colleague is sick? (external link) — The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

When can I use the serious threat exception? (external link) — The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

If you're considering reducing people's hours or redundancies due to COVID-19, Employment NZ have information on how to modify employee agreements.

Employee redundancy

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