Applications are now open for businesses (including self-employed people) to get the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment (RSP). With Auckland planning for at least another week in Alert Level 4, this scheme will provide welcome assistance to struggling businesses.
The Resurgence Support Payment was initially introduced as a response to Wellington’s earlier COVID-19 scare. This payment does not need to go directly to employee costs, and can be used for other fixed costs incurred by businesses during this time. This scheme will provide up to $1,500 for the business plus an additional $400 per employee (up to a maximum of 50 employees, or $21,500). To be eligible, businesses need to have experienced a 30 per cent drop in revenue (or a 30 per cent decline in capital raising ability) over a seven-day period due to the increase to alert level 4. Businesses can apply online through the IRD website.
The Government has also rolled out the Wage Subsidy again. Wage Subsidy rates have increased in response to higher wage costs since the subsidy was first introduced in March 2020 – now, businesses will be eligible for $600 per week for full time employees, and $359 per week for part time employees (previously, $585 and $350 respectively). Payment to eligible businesses is be provided in a two-week lump sum. The eligibility requirements remain the same, being an anticipated 40 per cent loss of revenue for the 2 weeks since the change in alert levels, as compared to a normal 2 week period in the 6 weeks prior to the alert level change. Employers in seasonal markets (if the nature of the business makes it difficult to establish the 40% decline) can compare to the same two week period in 2020 or 2019. Subsidy funds received should go directly to payment of employees’ wages, including for employees who have not yet started work or who are in their notice period, and will need to be repaid in the event the anticipated decline in revenue doesn’t eventuate. Businesses can apply online through the Work and Income website.
Other options available to employers include the Short-term Absence Payment and the Leave Support Scheme.
The Short-term Absence Payment provides a one-off $350 payment for employees who would be in the workplace (currently, only essential services) but are waiting for a COVID-19 test result and cannot work from home. This payment is not available if a business is receiving payments under the Wage Subsidy or Leave Support Scheme for this employee.
The Leave Support Scheme provides for employees who would be working (i.e. essential workers) who are required to self-isolate and cannot work from home. A flat rate of $585.80 per week for full-time workers (20+ hours/week) and $350 a week for part-time workers (less than 20 hours/week) is paid. Again, this is only available if the business is not already receiving support payments for this employee.
Employers and employees alike should be reminded that they are all subject to the usual employment obligations – dealing with each other in good faith, being open and communicative and ensuring health and safety while working. This can be difficult to maintain with normal routines and practices out the window – and varying abilities to continue operations. Please contact a member of our employment team or health and safety team for detailed advice.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, this is a rapidly changing environment and the information will be subject to change.