Covid-19: Do employers have to keep paying staff?

Geoff Bevan, Jenna Riddle

Covid-19: Do employers have to keep paying staff?

New Zealand is again facing the possibility a lockdown of uncertain duration.  One thing we do know for certain is that employment law doesn’t have a “pandemic exception.” In the last couple of months we have seen a number of legal claims coming out of the previous lockdown, including at least two which have resulted in employees receiving financial awards.

Providing general advice to employers about their obligations is extremely difficult, because the right answer in each situation often depends on a range of details. For example, is your business essential?  Can the employee work from home and, if so, to what extent?  What does the employment agreement say?  Do the terms of any wage subsidy scheme restrict what you can do?

There are also several areas where the law doesn’t yet give clear guidance. 

However, here are brief answers to some of the key questions employers will have about paying their staff:

Again, this is just brief and general advice – it is not a substitute for specific legal advice about your situation.  If you do need help, please contact us (and you should definitely get specific advice if you are looking at making staff redundant, or otherwise imposing changes to hours or pay).  We can also provide government funded tailored advice, support and coaching to eligible employers through the Regional Business Partner Network.
Please contact Geoff Bevan: 03 474 6720  or Jenna Riddle: 03 477 7312 if you need further assistance.

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