On 21 March 202 the New Zealand Government has announced a COVID-19 alert system to streamline advice and requirements to the public around what social and public health measures must be taken. The alert system is as follows:
New Zealand is currently at Level 2, although the Government has advised everyone to be prepared for the level to increase.
What does a LEVEL 2 alert mean for me and my business?
Employers should now be:
- Pro-actively implementing alternative ways of working for their staff (e.g. shift work, working from home);
- Working with your "At Risk" employees (i.e. employees who are over 70, are pregnant, have underlying medical conditions or a compromised immune system) and taking reasonable practicable steps to protect them;
- Be encouraging staggered meal breaks at work;
- Limiting work-related non-essential domestic travel of workers;
- Understand how to apply leave/payments to staff who are in self-isolation;
- Understand how and when the COVID-19 Leave Payment and COVID-19 Wage Subsidy can be applied for;
- Have proper cleaning and sanitisation systems in place;
- Be requiring social distancing at work
If you are unsure about any of your obligations as an employer, please get in touch with out team.Bronwen is available to work with the business owners/ leaders to provide strategic advice as to how your business can flex and respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Support, stability and guidance. We recommend that employers:
- Obtain advice to ensure that they understand their legal health and safety responsibilities;
- Understand the Government help that is available, in particular the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy and/ or the COVID-19 Leave Payment, and whether the employer can take advantage of these payments;
- Communicate regularly with the employees with a view to mobilising the team to take personal responsibility for COVID-19 but also to unite around your business mission and values and purpose;
- Provide resources to employees to educate and mobilise the team to take personal responsibility;
- Offer EAP services to employees;
- Be available to your team to answer questions and provide support;
- Be flexible, open and engaged.
Some employers will need to move swiftly to ensure their business can flex and respond to the impact of COVID-19. Areas that you and your business may need to proactively look at:
- Whether you should put a freeze on pay-rises and/or bonuses;
- Creating a strategy around marketing and creating (and meeting) market demand for your business;
- Moving to, say a 4 day week to retain staff;
- Potential restructure and redundancies.
We recommend you obtain legal advice to discuss the strategy and business continuity plan for your business prior to taking any of these steps. It is imperative at this time that businesses follow correct and proper procedure in relation to their staff but also to ensure that the approach taken is right for that particular business.