Employment Information

Employment Information

Employment rights  

Level 2 update  

Working from home Update:  

  • Provided the physical distancing rules outline below are followed, employees can now go to work  

  •  There is a leave support scheme available for employees who are unable to go into work because of public health guidelines or cannot work from home.  

  • More information can be found here: https://workandincome.govt.nz/covid-19/leave-support-scheme/index.html 

What should be happening at your workplace?  

For physical distancing you are required to: 

  • ensure all people (excludes workers) on the work premises or who use its services keep two metres away from each other and from the workers wherever possible 

  • ensure all workers keep one metre away from each other wherever possible 

  • manage the risk of COVID-19 spread if physical distances cannot be met or maintained 

For contact tracing you are required to: 

  • keep contact tracing records for all workers and those who carry out work for the business or service. 


Wage subsidy  

  • The Government has updated this. The original 12-week subsidy applied to all businesses that had suffered a 30% reduction. This expires on June 9th. From then business that have suffered a 50% reduction in the 30-days preceding the application, will continue to be eligible for the wage subsidy, for a further 8-weeks.   

  • The purpose of the scheme remains to ensure that employers are able to continue to employe and pay their employees   


Useful resources  



Can employees terminate your contract due to Covid-19?  

Normal employment obligations still apply. If you think your employer had breached their minimum employment obligations to you, you can contact the employment line on 0800 20 90 20 or by email at info@employment.govt.nz

Employers should make “best efforts’ to retain their employees. The purpose of the wage subsidy is to enable employers to retain their staff.  

Some contracts may have clauses that would enable your employer to terminate your employment (e.g. frustration clauses which apply if you work is impossible or radically different). However, this will vary from contract to contract. If you are concerned, or your employer had suggested terminating your contract on this ground, you can reach out to the employment help line or get advice from a lawyer.  

What if I am not on a contract or have been paid under the table?  

The government wage packet encompasses only legitimate contracts as these are the type of expenses that for businesses and individual applications there is legal evidence of. If you are in a situation where pay is under the table, you will not be able to apply for the wage subsidy, or wage related support. Options may include arrangements you can come to with your employer or other forms of financial support through OUSA, Studylink, the University, and WINZ.  

What if I am employed by the University?  

The University is subject to the same rules as other employees.  

If you are employed by the University, you can contact hrcovid@otago.ac.nz for specific COVID-19 related questions. As papers continues to run there is still a need for the type of support many students provide through their work. 

Annual leave  

If you and your employer have previously agreed to annual leave, you can still take it. You and your employer may want to agree on taking annual leave for the period of the lockdown and you are entitled to do so. If you cannot agree, your employer may direct you to take annual leave, provided it is discussed beforehand and they give you at least 14 days-notice. Annual leave must be paid at your contracted rate. 


Minimum wage  

As of April 1st, minimum wage will be increasing to $18.90. Employers are expected to action this increase. However, if they cannot do so immediately, for example, if they cannot access their payroll system, it should be backdated.  

Under the wage subsidy scheme, if you are not working, your employer is still required to pay at least 80% of pre-COVID-19 income or at a minimum, the wage subsidy. Wages for work that is not being done, will not be increased to reflect minimum wage because the work is not being performed. When you are able to work again, you should receive the updated minimum wage.