21.02.22 UPDATE: A new Covid-19 Support Payment (CSP) has been activated. See below for more details.
As a business owner, you will no doubt be wanting to do everything you can to protect your workplace, workers, customers and community from the impact of the Omicron outbreak. It is important therefore to prepare for potential workforce shortages, due to staff being sick or needing to self-isolate, and supply chain issues.
Reducing risk in the workplace
There are steps you can take to protect your staff and customers against Omicron and having a clear plan can help lessen the impact as you focus on operating in a safe way.
Simple steps to reduce risk:
- Understand the Covid-19 Protection Framework and how it affects your business and follow the guidelines.
- Support employees to get vaccinated.
- Encourage good hygiene and optimise workplace ventilation.
- Ensure staff stay at home if they are sick. Financial support is available for businesses whose staff can’t work from home while waiting for a test result (see below).
Planning for Omicron in the workplace
Have a plan including:
- Understand your responsibilities as an employer, including employment law and health and safety law. See Employment NZ and WorkSafe.
- Consider having staff working from home when appropriate or dual rosters to reduce staff interacting, eg, morning shift, afternoon shift.
- Have a plan for communicating with workers and customers in the event that a contact or staff member tests positive.
- Think about ways you can operate with fewer staff if need be such as reduced hours, a reduced service (eg, moving to takeaways or click and collect-style sales), or prioritising what work is most important, and what can be delayed.
- Consider temporary workforce providers in case you need to call on them for additional workers.
- Record important processes and knowledge so other workers can pick tasks up if someone is unable to work.
- Check out your industry body to see if they have developed sector-specific guidance or services.
- Review your finances and understand your cashflow. Engage credit providers, such as your bank, early to discuss ways you might manage cashflow if an outbreak affects your business.
- Have a continuity or contingency plan, see business.govt.nz, The Business Continuity Institute or talk to us.
- Consider other businesses you deal with, such as suppliers, and talk to them about their continuity and contingency plans.
Close contacts, testing & returning to work
Make sure you know what will happen if you test positive for Covid-19; if you are a close contact or if you live with a close contact; you will need to self-isolate for a period of time. See covid19.govt.nz.
At each of the three phases to the Omicron response, there are different requirements for businesses, including testing and how long cases need to isolate for. This is to better enable critical workforces to continue operating through a widespread community outbreak of the Omicron variant.
See information on:
- Identifying and registering critical workforces and ‘test to return to work’ for critical workers business.govt.nz
- Managing a Covid-19 case at your business and the phases of the Omicron response health.govt.nz
- Mask wearing guidance health.govt.nz
Financial support for absences and leave
There are two forms of financial support for businesses with employees (including owners) affected by Covid-19 testing and self-isolation:
- The Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for a Covid-19 test result.
- The Leave Support Scheme is available to employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who have been advised to self-isolate because of Covid-19 and can’t work at home during that period.
More information at covid19.govt.nz
New Covid Support Payment
A new targeted Covid-19 Support Payment (CSP) has been announced for businesses struggling with revenue during the Omicron outbreak. It’s to help support viable and ongoing businesses or organisations which have experienced a 40% or more drop in revenue as a result of one or more of the following:
- the widespread presence of covid-19 in NZ
- the legislative public health measures taken in order to reduce the spread of covid-19 in the NZ
- any business circumstances that are, or are reasonably likely to be, a consequence of the circumstances described above.
We’re here to help
If one of our team here at McClean & Co is affected by Covid-19, we can work from home if we are well and, just like in previous lockdown periods, we will continue to support you and your business through the next phase of the pandemic.
More information on managing the impact of Covid-19 on your business can be found at business.govt.nz
Got questions or need support? Call us or call the free Covid-19 Business Helpline on 0800 505 096 for support and advice on:
- government financial support
- what different COVID-19 Protection Framework levels mean for your business
- business continuity
- finding free or subsidised expert help, eg a business mentor or advisor.
Employers can also get specific advice on people challenges, including staffing changes, employee wellbeing, and meeting your health and safety obligations.