Employment Obligations during Alert Levels 2 and 3
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield announced last night that four new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Auckland. As a result, Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 as at midday today 12 August 2020, with the rest of New Zealand moving to Alert Level 2. The Alert levels are in place for 72 hours, but may be extended.
We remind employers that employment law is not suspended during the various Alert levels, even where businesses are required to close or reduce operations. In particular, changes to employment agreements cannot be made unilaterally.
If your business needs to shut and your staff cannot work from home, or you need to put staff on reduced hours and/or pay, we urge you not to rush into decision making and instead do the following:
- check your employment agreements
- get agreement with your employees to vary any contractual terms
- get legal advice before simply reducing hours and/or pay, or not paying staff at all where they cannot work. Recent decisions from the Employment Relations Authority have indicated the “no work, no pay” argument won’t necessarily fly, depending on what contractual arrangements are in place.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions about your employment obligations during Covid-19, please contact our specialist Employment Team.