- Guidance and resources for responding to COVID-19 are changing frequently
- CA ANZ members need to be aware changes and the resources available
- This page provides a range of CA ANZ and Government resources to help members and their clients navigate COVID-19
New public health measures announced - 14 July 2022
On 14 July 2022, the Government announced new public health measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, as a second Omicron wave in addition to flu season adds pressure on the health system. The below provides a summary of the announcement:
- Free masks and rapid antigen tests will be available from testing sites and collection points.
- Increased access to antiviral medication for those more likely to end up in hospital.
- RATs and masks - the Government encourages everyone to collect supplies from a testing site or other locations. There is no eligibility criteria, you do not need to be unwell to collect either RATs or masks. You can arrange to collect through the My Covid App or the COVID-19 website.
- Antiviral medication - to reduce the severity of a COVID-19 infection, antiviral medication will be available to a broader group of ‘at risk’ individuals.
- Support and information for businesses - more information on how to manage the impact of COVID-19 cases at your business can be found here.
Updated Worksafe guidance – 30 March 2022
WorkSafe has updated guidance on risk assessments, based on current public health advice and aligns with the Government’s COVID-19 requirements.
The full guidance can be found at WorkSafe including the key points;
- Employer vaccination requirements should be used carefully, based on public health advice, and are not a suitable first response for managing COVID-19 in most workplaces.
- Outside of sectors covered by Government vaccine mandates, few workplaces have justification for an employer vaccination requirement.
- Employers are encouraged to complete a risk assessment or review their existing risk assessment as New Zealand progresses through the current COVID-19 outbreak.
- Employers can and should encourage workers to get their Covid vaccinations or boosters
- The justification for requiring vaccination is stronger when we are more likely to contract and transmit Covid at work than in the community. This is why some Government vaccination mandates remain in place.
Risk assessment under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- WorkSafe encourages employers to complete or review their risk assessment as New Zealand progresses through the current Covid outbreak
- The focus of a risk assessment must be on the work being done, not the individual who does the work and must be based on health and safety at work
- An employer wants an employee to be vaccinated for other reasons, such as business continuity or to meet third party entry requirements, then that is an employment matter
- A risk assessment should never be carried out with an end goal in mind
- Most employers do not have infection control expertise and rely on direction and advice from public health experts
- The pace of change during the pandemic is unlike typical risks to work health and safety
WorkSafe’s expectation is that an employer:
- Follows public health guidance when carrying out a risk assessment
- Engages effectively with workers and their representatives
- Regularly reviews the risk assessment as the situation changes
Where an employer can demonstrate it has done the above, it is very unlikely that WorkSafe will take enforcement action.
For more information
Omicron Phase Three and tax changes – 25 February 2022
Phase Three changes
New Zealand is now in Phase Three of the Omicron Public Health Response, as of 25 February.
Under Phase Three, most people will self-manage and health and social services will focus on families and communities that have the highest needs.
Only confirmed cases and household contacts will be required to isolate. Close contacts do not have a requirement to isolate. They must however self-monitor for 10 days and test if symptomatic.
The ‘decision tree’ below is useful in determining who is a close contact, and can be downloaded here.
Tax payment support
CA ANZ has been working alongside Inland Revenue to amend deadlines and requirements for taxpayers impacted by COVID.
Businesses should log on to myIR to see if they can delay starting payments to a later date, or if any part of the tax could be written off. IR can help with both GST and provisional tax due.
New COVID Support Payment – 21 February 2022
A new targeted COVID Support Payment will be made available for businesses struggling with revenue during the Omicron outbreak.
Each COVID Support Payment will be $4000 per business plus $400 per full-time employee, capped at 50 FTEs or $24,000. This is the same rate as the most recent Transition Payment.
To be eligible for support, businesses must prove a 40 percent drop in revenue in seven consecutive days, within the six weeks prior to the shift to Phase 2 (February 15), compared to seven days after that date.
Applications for the first payment open on February 28, with payments starting from March 1. It will be available on a fortnightly basis for six weeks.
Omicron spread and moving to red – 26 January 2022.
In response to the increase of Omicron COVID cases in the community, the Government has issued new advice that businesses should follow.
Changes are also being made to the Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme so eligible businesses can access a top up loan which allows an additional $10,000 draw down, with five years to repay, with the first two years interest free.
New three phase strategy
The Government’s three phases strategy is below, which will progress as cases increase.
Phase One - Stamp it out
There are some cases in the community, but we continue to stamp it out.
- PCR test for people that have symptoms and close contacts at GP or Community Testing Centre
- Cases must isolate for 14 days
- Contacts must isolate for 10 days
Phase Two - Need to minimise and slow further spread
Cases have spread in the community, so we need to minimise and slow further spread and assist our vulnerable communities.
- Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) may be used in addition to PCR testing for symptomatic people and close contacts
- Cases must isolate for 10 days
- Contacts must isolate for 7 days
- Digital technology used more as cases grow – text via mobile and information via email
Phase Three - Managing it
There are thousands of cases per day: most people will self-manage and health and social services focus on families and communities that have the highest needs.
- Widespread community cases with focus on managing pressure on health services and maintaining critical/essential services
- Cases must Isolate for 10 days
- Contacts must isolate for 7 days with extra support in place for health and critical workforces
- Majority of positive cases are self-managed
Throughout these phases, critical workers who are close contacts are able to show proof of a negative rapid antigen test to return to work during their required period of isolation.
Changes to mask requirements
- For business, workers who are mandated to be vaccinated will need to wear a medical grade mask when working in public facing roles from 11:59pm on 3 February.
- For people visiting these places, makeshift face coverings (ie scarf, bandana or t-shirt) will no longer be adequate.
- More info on mask mandate changes can be found here
Clarification on critical services
- Associate Health Minister Verrall said said the process of identifying critical services is underway.
How your business can help reduce the spread
There are a few steps you and your business can take to help manage the spread of Covid-19:
- Encourage your staff to get vaccinated and boosted - and offer your support
- Review mask policies in your place of business
- Increase ventilation/airflow in your place of business
- Consider adjusting your policy on sick leave to support staff who need to isolate or quarantine
See more info on Testing and returning to work during Omicron — business.govt.nz
For guidance on reducing the risk of Covid, dealing with Covid effects on you and your employees, as well as accessing financial support, visit business.govt.nz.
For a summary of the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights), click here.
COVID Protection Framework (Traffic lights) & Employment NZ guidance – 30 November
The COVID-19 Protection Framework will replace the Alert Level system at 11:59pm, 2 December with a traffic light system. The traffic lights (COVID-19 Protection Framework) aim to protect Aotearoa New Zealand from COVID-19, while allowing vaccinated people more freedoms.
Businesses and workplaces can open at Red. Some workers may need to be vaccinated. To find more information about operating at Red, click here.
To see a summary of all the levels, and what’s required under them, click here.
Employment NZ have also released their latest newsletter.
It is essential reading for business owners, and covers a range of topics including:
- Vaccination requirement for some workers by Friday 3 December
- Paid time off for employees to get vaccinated
- Paid notice period where employment is terminated based on vaccination requirements
- New upcoming vaccination assessment tool for businesses
- Employment tips for public holidays over Christmas and New Year
Traffic light transition payment and Resurgence Support Payment change – 30 November
The Minister of Finance has announced a number of changes to the financial support for businesses once New Zealand moves into the COVID Protection Framework at 11.59pm on December 2nd. The changes are as follows:
- There will be a one-off Transition Payment to acknowledge the restrictions businesses have faced due to the higher Alert Levels in in Auckland, Waikato and Northland. This payment operates in the same way as the Resurgence Support Payments, with the same criteria. Businesses and organisations with reduced income between 3 October and 9 November may be eligible.
- Applications will open in myIR on December 10.
- There are no additional rounds of the Wage Subsidy or Resurgence Support Payment planned.
- There will be a change to the Resurgence Support Payment eligibility criteria to allow existing businesses that changed ownership on or after July 18 to receive the payments. This will come into effect from December 10.
- The Leave Support Payment will change to a weekly payment (rather than fortnightly)
More information can be found at http://www.ird.govt.nz/.
COVID vaccination pass and certificate update – 16 November
Everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand aged 16 and over can now view their COVID-19 vaccination records online via My Covid Record|mycovidrecord.health.nz
Vaccinated people will also be able to download a vaccine pass for use in Aotearoa New Zealand, and a separate vaccine certificate for international travel, from My Covid record|mycovidrecord.health.nz.
Click here to learn how to use My Covid Record. If you have problems accessing a computer, providing identification or have an exemption from vaccination, please call 0800 222 478.
Vaccine pass use – requirements for businesses
Under the new COVID Protection Framework, requiring customers or patrons to present a vaccine pass will be optional for many locations. There will be some higher-risk settings where vaccine passes will be required, in order to open to the public.
At all levels of the COVID Protection Framework, businesses, retail, and public facilities will generally be able to remain open for vaccinated people. Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally choose to implement an entry requirement using the Ministry of Health vaccine pass.
If a business, organisation or service does not wish to require vaccine passes on entry, they will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. They may need to close in Orange and/or Red levels of the new COVID Protection Framework.
The Ministry of Health is building a free Verifier App to be made available on the App Store and Google Play, for businesses to use to scan and verify a domestic vaccine pass. The verification app will be available to download later this month.
Risk assessment process not applicable where Vaccination Order mandates vaccination
On 26 October 2021 the Government announced a new risk assessment process will be introduced to assist employers to determine what work requires a vaccinated employee.
The risk assessment process will not apply to work that the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 specifies must be carried out by people who are fully vaccinated.
Where the Order mandates work to be completed by someone who is fully vaccinated, no risk assessment needs to be carried out, nor does an employer have the option to consider whether other public health measures such as physical distancing and use of personal protective equipment can minimise the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19. The risk assessment process will be introduced under public health legislation later this year.
Rapid Antigen Testing trial - update
The 29 businesses participating in the Rapid Antigen Testing trial have started using rapid antigen tests. To date, there have been a total of 1,763 rapid antigen tests administered,
Data from the trial (number of tests, number of positive tests, number of invalid tests) is being submitted twice weekly by participants. Data collection and meetings will continue until the trial ends on 30 November 2021, before the information is used to inform the wider rollout of rapid antigen testing.
Queries about the rapid testing scheme and for business to register their interest in being part of further stages of this trial in the coming months, can be directed to [email protected]
Exemptions from mandatory vaccination under the Order – new process and criteria established
In some situations, border workers, health and disability, education and corrections workers may be able to get an exemption from being vaccinated against COVID-19. However, there are very few situations where a vaccine is contraindicated and, as such, a medical exemption is expected to be rarely required.
A centralised process has now been established to manage vaccine exemptions. The process includes a layer of independence and objective criteria. Exemptions previously granted are now void, so people will need to reapply.
Please note that the exceptions process for Border workers, including MIQ and port workers covered by the vaccination order, remains unchanged.
For more information please visit www.health.govt.nz.
Employment NZ updates COVID information – 10 November
Employment New Zealand has released their latest information on about employment rights and responsibilities.
- New legislation for workplace vaccine requirements.
- Details around changing an employee’s hours of work.
- Information on closing down over the festive season.
- What financial support is available during COVID-19.
CA ANZ and Xero offer new support programmes
CA ANZ has partnered with Deakin Business School to offer ‘Counting on U’, a unique program providing accredited mental health first aid and relationship building training.
Accountants are often at the frontline with business owners experiencing financial distress and other pressures, particularly in regional areas where clients in financial trouble are far more likely to chat about it with their accountant than a counsellor.
Rather than enabling members to diagnose or treat mental illness, Counting on U provides high-level communication skills needed to have sensitive conversations to help clients, friends and family reach the mental health resources they need.
Register now for an online Counting on U information session, behind held at midday, Tuesday 9 November.
Xero have also extended their Xero Assistance Programme to all Auckland small business owners.
It’s free, confidential, and run through the world-leading wellbeing provider Benestar, oﬀering access to three telephone, live chat, or online professional counselling sessions. Email [email protected] with the name of your business to recieve instructions on how to access the service.
Government boosts Resurgence Support Payment and business advice
On Friday 22 October the Govenrment announced a ‘Business Boost’ package, alongside detail on a new COVID suppression strategy.
Some of the high level details can be found below.
Resurgence Support Payment boost
- After the next scheduled payment on the 29th of October, payments will be made fortnightly at double the current rate. The first of these will open on the 12th of November.
- Currently the RSP is a three-weekly payment of $1500 per eligible business and $400 for each full-time employee up to a total of 50 FTEs or $21,500
- For the payments starting on 12th of November this will be $3000 per eligible business and $800 per FTE, up to 50 FTEs. This will make the maximum fortnightly payment $43,000.
Business advice funding
- A $60 million fund for business advice and mental health support in Auckland.
- Delivered through the established Regional Business Partner Network with grants for advice now not requiring a matching contribution from the business.
- Businesses will be able to apply for up to $3,000 worth of advice and planning support, and then receive up to $4,000 to implement that advice.
Ten facts every business and employee should know about Delta and the workplace
Topics include whether workers can be required to be vaccinated, or return to work under certain levels, and what specific conditions are required if an employer wants to change the terms and conditions of an employee's work arrangements.
It's always good to refresh on this information – check out the 10 facts at employment.govt.nz.
Sharing Knowledge video online – Covid Support for Business
The recent Sharing Knowledge session on Covid Support for Business, hosted by NZ Country Head Peter Vial, Government Relations Lead Charlotte Evett CA and NZ Tax Leader John Cuthbertson FCA is now available for viewing on www.charteredaccountantsanz.com.
Employment New Zealand advice
Employment New Zealand has issued their latest newsletter, covering frequently asked questions including whether employers can pay staff less than their normal wages during COVID-19 and whether employers can make employees take annual leave or sick leave to help complement their wages.
View the newsletter at employment.govt.nz.
Mandatory QR scanning or record keeping from Tuesday 7 September
At midnight on Tuesday 7 September, it will become compulsory for many public-facing businesses to have a QR scanning or other record-keeping system for the use of every person entering their premises.
Information regarding this requirement can be found here.
If you need any business-related advice or support our fully funded COVID-19 Business Helpline is available for all businesses in the South Island - on: 0800 50 50 96 via the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce or the North Island on 0800 500362 via EMA.
The COVID-19 Business Helpline can help you with advice on workplace operations during changing alert levels, how to access Government financial support, understanding employer obligations for staff, and general business advice to support business continuity.
Inland Revenue updates
Working from home tax determinations updated
On 1 September Inland Revenue has updated their guidance around payments provided to employees that work from home and employee use of telecommunications tools and usage plans in their employment.
Determination EE003 applies for the period 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2023 and sets out the extent to which a payment made by an employer to an employee in these circumstances is able to be treated as exempt income to the employee.
In order to make it easier for employers and employees to locate the information that they may require, this determination amalgamates and replaces all previous determinations that have been published on this topic.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand welcomes this new determination, but says that the latest lockdown is further evidence that working from home is here to stay, and that a permanent working from home tax policy is needed. Read more of our comments on www.nzherald.co.nz.
Please find below a information and links to the various Government Covid Lockdown support measures.
We encourage you to re-visit the websites below regularly for updates.
Resurgence Support Payment
The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is a payment to help support viable and ongoing businesses or organisations due to a COVID-19 alert level or traffic light increase.
Tax agents can apply for the RSP on behalf of their clients, if they confirm they have the authority to apply and hold a record of that authority.
Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) is eligible to employers and self-employed people anywhere in the country can apply for the WSS if they expect a loss of 40 percent of revenue because of the Alert Level increase announced on 17 August 2021.
The WSS rates have been increased to reflect the increase in wage costs since the scheme was first used in March 2020. Businesses will be eligible for $600 per week per full-time equivalent employee, and $359 per week per part-time employee. Wage Subsidy payments for all eligible employees will be paid as a two-week lump sum. Applications open on Friday 20 August.
Short-Term Absence Payment
The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.
Leave Support Scheme
The Leave Support Scheme (LSS) is available for employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who need to self-isolate and can't work from home.
Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme (SBCLS)
The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme (SBCLS) is for viable businesses and self-employed people with 50 or fewer full time equivalent employees that have been in business for 6 months or more, and have experienced at least a 30 percent decline in actual revenue may be eligible for a loan under the SBCLS.
The loan must be used to pay for core operating costs of your business or organisation or capital costs that are intended to help your business adapt to the circumstances arising because of COVID-19. Applications for the scheme are open until 31 December 2023.
Contacting Inland Revenue
Self-Service options are available through myIR and instructions can be found on their website, ird.govt.nz. They have advised that critical enquiries should be directed through your agent account manager. They will continue to provide online meetings.
Doing Business Under Alert Levels and traffic lights
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) provides the guidelines around what businesses can operate under the various lockdown levels or traffic lights.
To find out more, click here.
For more information contact the MBIE advice centre [email protected] or on 0800 424 946
CA ANZ support
Please don't hesitate to use our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – personal guidance and support is available for all members.Find out about EAP
Ethics reminder during this time
As the we move to a high trust Government support model, and as clients come under increased pressure, it is important that we remain vigilant and hold fast to our shared values and Code of Ethics. It is well worth re-reading this ethics reminder from our President.
Refine your business plans for the new normal: New Zealand
Guidance on how to navigate your business through COVID.Read more
The Employee Assistance Program is available to New Zealand members
Find out how to access confidential guidance and counselling.Read more