COVID-19: Financial support for businesses

A summary of the financial support available to help you, your business and employees in times of difficulty, to recover from the effects of COVID-19.

New support available

The government has announced new COVID-19 support for businesses. 

Short-Term Absence Payment 

From mid-February, a Short-Term Absence Payment will be available at all Alert Levels to employers to pay workers who follow public health guidance and stay home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result. To be eligible, workers need to miss at least one shift of work, and be unable to work from home.

The payment will be $350 for each worker. Employers or the self-employed will be able to apply for any worker once in any 30-day period.

Resurgence Support Payment 

From late-February, a Resurgence Support Payment will be available if we are at Alert Level 2 or above for a week or more. Businesses and the self-employed will be eligible if they experience an actual decline in revenue of 30% over a 14-day period. The decline in revenue must be as a result of the specific Alert Level escalation, not just COVID-19 in general. 

You must have been in business for at least six months to be eligible. Pre-revenue firms, such as start-ups are also eligible. 

Charities and not-for-profit organisations are also eligible.  

Wage Subsidy Scheme 

The Wage Subsidy Scheme will be available if any part of the country moves to Alert Level 3 or above for a week or more. 

Businesses and the self-employed will need to prove a 40% decline in predicted or actual revenue. 

Find out more information about the new support. 

COVID-19 financial support for businesses(external link) — Work and Income

Financial support plan for businesses if there’s a COVID-19 resurgence(external link) —

Leave Support Scheme

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme provides a payment to businesses to pay their workers who need to take leave due to COVID-19 public health guidance. This is also available for sole traders.

If you, or your staff have been told by a health official to self-isolate and cannot work from home, you can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. This support will be paid as a lump sum covering two weeks (you can reapply if required).

Under changes to this scheme, businesses will no longer be required to show an actual or predicted revenue drop or their ability to support an employee was negatively impacted by COVID-19, to be eligible to access the payment.

Leave Support Scheme(external link) — Work and Income

Small business cash flow loan scheme (SBCS)

Government will provide one-off loans to small businesses, including sole traders and the self-employed, impacted by COVID-19 to support their cash flow needs. Applications have been extended and are now open until 31 December 2023. You can apply through myIR.

The small business cash flow loan scheme will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to businesses employing 50 or fewer full-time employees. This includes sole traders and self-employed businesses.

Details of the loans include:

  • $10,000 to be provided to eligible businesses
  • an additional $1800 per equivalent full-time employee
  • interest free if the loan is paid back within two years
  • an interest rate of 3% for a maximum term of five years
  • repayments not required for the first two years
  • maximum amount you can borrow depends on the number of full-time and part-time employees.

Use the small business cash flow loan scheme eligibility tool and find out how to apply.

COVID-19: Small business cash flow loan scheme eligibility tool

Applications are open until and including 31 December 2023 through myIR. Go to the 'I want to' section, and select 'Apply for the small business loan'.

myIR(external link) — Inland Revenue

If your businesses doesn’t have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Register a myIR account for a business or organisation(external link) — Inland Revenue

Most applicants will receive their loan payment in full from Inland Revenue within five working days. You don’t have to accept the full loan amount you’re offered, and can decide to take a smaller loan.

Tax and ACC support

If you’re having difficulties meeting your tax obligations due to COVID-19, Inland Revenue has various support schemes and options to help.

COVID-19 business and organisations(external link) — Inland Revenue

ACC levy invoices for the 20/21 financial year would usually have been sent from 1 July, but will now be sent in October. ACC has more information about delayed invoices and guidance to help.

Easing the COVID-19 burden on businesses(external link) — ACC

If you are having trouble making ACC payments, ACC has guidance to help. If you are no longer in business, it’s also a good idea to let ACC know.

General COVID-19 information for businesses(external link) — ACC

Business debt hibernation

Business debt hibernation is a government initiative created in response to COVID-19. It helps companies, trusts, and other business entities affected by COVID-19 to manage their debts. Applications are open until 31 October 2021.

If business debt hibernation is right for your business, this is how it helps you manage your debts.

  • You set up an arrangement for your existing debts, eg paying your creditors only a percentage of what you owe them on time and delaying the rest.
  • You get up to a month of protection while you set up the arrangement, meaning most creditors can’t enforce their debts, eg applying for your business to be liquidated.
  • If your creditors agree, you get a further six months of protection.

Use the business debt hibernation decision tool to find out if it’s a good option for your business and if so, how to get started.

COVID-19: Business debt hibernation

Business finance guarantee scheme

More small and medium-sized businesses may be eligible for the Business Finance Guarantee scheme, with a simplified and expanded scheme now in place.

Participating lenders can provide new loans, increased limits to existing loans or a revolving credit facility to eligible businesses. The scheme supports lenders by government taking on the default risk of up to 80% of the loan.

Changes to the scheme mean the loans can be used for capital purchases and projects relating to, responding to or recovering from the impacts of COVID-19. This means businesses can use the credit, for example, to modify their premises to operate at different alert levels or meet changing demands. Banks can lend to businesses with an annual revenue of up to $200m, while loans are available from non-bank lenders for businesses with annual revenue up to $50m. There is a lending limit of $5m, or $3m from a non-bank.

The Crown has also clarified that it will guarantee its share of a scheme loan without a personal guarantee – though lenders make their own lending decisions and may have their own requirements. Borrowers are still liable to pay the loan back in the usual way.

Business Finance Guarantee scheme(external link) — Treasury

R&D loan scheme

Callaghan Innovation’s R&D Loan Scheme is to help businesses continue their research and development activities impacted by COVID-19.

Details of the loans include:

  • up to $400,000 to support planned eligible R&D activity
  • interest free if the loan is paid back in full within a year
  • 3% interest from the start of the loan
  • repayments not required for the first three years
  • maximum loan period of 10 years.

Businesses are eligible if:

  • they have R&D activity in place, or were preparing an R&D plan before COVID-19
  • they are planning on spending at least $50,000 on eligible R&D activity
  • their R&D funding has been impacted by COVID-19.

R&D Loan Scheme(external link) — Callaghan Innovation

Got questions? Call the COVID-19 business helpline.

Got questions? Call the COVID-19 business helpline.

North Island 0800 500 362
South Island 0800 505 096

Financial support tool

The financial support tool from Unite for the recovery can help you find out what financial help may be available to you.

The tool will take you through a series of questions about to find out more about your personal situation including:

  • your work status
  • your situation
  • whether your workplace has reduced business.

Financial support tool(external link) —

COVID-19 Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme

The COVID-19 Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme has been established to support travel agents and wholesalers while they recover refunds and credits owed to New Zealanders travelling overseas.

Participating travel agencies and wholesalers will be reimbursed for:

  • 7.5% of the value of cash refunds, and
  • 5% of the value of credits successfully secured on behalf of customers.

Reimbursement is available for refunds and credits processed from 14 August 2020, for bookings confirmed on or before 14 August 2020.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has more information on who is eligible and how to apply.

COVID-19 Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme(external link) — Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Resurgence Wage Subsidy has closed

The Resurgence Wage Subsidy Scheme was available from 1pm 21 August 2020 and closed at 11:59pm on 3 September 2020. This supported employers, the self-employed and sole traders, who were further impacted by COVID-19 due to the increased Alert Levels.

The Resurgence Scheme provided a two-week subsidy to eligible businesses, self-employed and contractors. Businesses must have experienced an actual or predicted 40% revenue drop for any consecutive period of at least 14 days within the period of 12 August to 10 September compared to a similar period last year.

Resurgence Wage Subsidy(external link) — Work and Income

Wage Subsidy Extension has closed

The Wage Subsidy Extension finished on 1 September 2020. The Wage Subsidy Extension payment was available for 8 weeks, to support employers, including sole traders, who were significantly impacted by COVID-19 after the initial Wage Subsidy ended. Businesses had to have experienced a minimum of 40% decline in revenue over a 30-day period within 40 days prior to applying for the extension, compared to the closest period last year.

Work and Income has more information and help on Wage Subsidy Extension applications.

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Extension(external link) — Work and Income

Visit Employment NZ for information on obligations for paying your staff and tax treatment.

Wage subsidies and pay(external link) — Employment NZ

Income Relief Payment has closed

The COVID-19 Income Relief Payment was available if you lost your job (including if you are self-employed) from 1 March 2020 to 30 October 2020 due to COVID-19. The scheme ended on 13 November 2020. If you are receiving the Income Relief Payment, you will continue to receive payments until 4 February 2021.

COVID-19 Income relief payment(external link) — Work and Income

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