Phoebe Kitto of HR Dynamics
It’s vital we retain our skilled people in the region. TTNQ is working with the government to identify the most effective mechanisms to support businesses to keep their people, including flexibility in employment laws. Consider options like whether you can split shifts to ensure that if some staff become ill, your business still has the skilled staff it needs to operate.
Please note that every situation is different and that the situation is changing every day. The information below reflects todays current advice. The advice below is of general nature. To talk through your situation please contact us directly.
Remember it’s all about communication. You are worried about your business and the impact this will have, and your staff are just as concerned about their jobs. The first step is to talk. Open and transparent communication is always best.
- If a staff member is in self-isolation as they may have come in contact to COVID-19 but they have not tested positive then strictly from an industrial relations standpoint they would be entitled to either annual leave or unpaid leave. This is because to access personal leave they need to have a personal illness or be caring for an immediate family or household member who has an illness or injury. However, this is quite harsh and as a business, if you have someone in self-isolation and want to pay personal leave that would be acceptable. We would recommend talking to the employee in self-isolation first and find out what their expectations are, and how they want to handle it. There may also be the possibility that they can work from home during this time and would not need to access their leave at all and would be paid as normal. If this is the case we would recommend that a proper Working From Home Agreement is signed.
- If a staff member has COVID-19 then they can access personal leave and should provide medical clearance to return to work.
- If you decide to close the business and have staff work from home then you pay normal wages. If you decide to close the business (without a Government Directive) but you do not have enough work for them to do from home then you need to continue to pay their wages as normal.
- If you are forced to close the business, i.e. the government declares that businesses must close, so it is due to circumstances out of your control it becomes a Stand Down, similar to if there is a cyclone coming requiring businesses to shut and you do not need to pay staff however you may allow them to access their annual leave.
- If there is a mutual agreement with your employees to vary these terms we recommend that you seek advice before commencing these conversations.
- We highly recommend that you implement a COVID-19 policy as well as a Hygiene in the Workplace policy.
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