The announcement that New Zealand will move to COVID-19 alert level 4 by Wednesday 25 March may not have been entirely unexpected, but it has still sent shock waves across the country. Here at PANZ we support the government’s effort to contain COVID-19, and although the next few weeks will be challenging for us all, we are committed to doing whatever we can to help.
Useful Resources and links
Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels
Following the announcement from the Prime Minister on 16 April, new guidance has been released about workplace activities at different alert levels.
New Zealand is now at Alert Level 2. Most businesses can open but must operate safely.
Information addressing some frequently asked questions as well as examples of what each alert level might look like for different kinds of businesses can be found here.
The covid19.govt.nz website has more information about what we can and can’t do at Alert Level 2.
COVID-19 Income Relief Payment
If you lose your job (including self-employment) from 1 March 2020 to 30 October 2020 due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment. It’s available from 8 June 2020.
You can get up to 12 weeks of payments, to help with living costs after a sudden job loss, and give you time to find other work.
You can apply online for the Income Relief Payment from 8 June 2020. If you need support before this date, there may be help available with a benefit or other payments in the meantime.
COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Extension
A Wage Subsidy Extension payment will be available to support employers, including sole traders, who are still significantly impacted by COVID-19 after the Wage Subsidy ends.
The Wage Subsidy Extension will be available from 10 June 2020 until 1 September 2020 so employers can keep paying their employees.
Below are some key points. More information about this payment and how to apply will be available before 10 June.
You can’t apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension for an employee until their 12 week Wage Subsidy has finished.
Applications open from 10 June 2020.
- You must have had, or expect to have, a revenue loss of at least 50% for the 30 days before you apply, compared to the closest period last year.
- It will cover 8 weeks per employee from the date you submit your application.
- It will be paid to you as a lump sum at the same weekly rate as the Wage Subsidy.
- You’ll need to agree to certain obligations, such as to:
- pass the subsidy on to your employees
- retain your employees for the duration of the subsidy
- do your best to pay your employees at least 80% of their normal pay
- take active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your business.
Receiving more than one COVID-19 payment
You won’t be able to receive more than one COVID-19 payment from us for the same employee at the same time. This includes the:
- Wage Subsidy
- Leave Support Scheme, and
- Wage Subsidy Extension.
Details are available here.
COVID-19: Business debt hibernation
Business debt hibernation helps companies, trusts and other entities affected by COVID-19 manage their existing debts until they can start trading normally again. For example, businesses may agree with creditors to delay repaying some of their debt.
Details can be found here.
Unfortunately, sole traders aren’t eligible for business debt hibernation. If you are a sole trader and seeking government support, check out the cash flow loans and support page here.
Government support for small businesses (1 May)
The Government will provide interest free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 economic shock to support their immediate cashflow needs and meet fixed costs. The scheme will provide up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer FTE employees. Applications open on 12 May and will be managed by Inland Revenue.
The new COVID-19 Advisory Helpline on 0800 500 362 can answer queries from Auckland businesses related to RBPN and other government business support.
Support for Small to Medium-sized Businesses (15 April)
The Government has announced a set of new relief measures for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Details can be found here.
A wage subsidy is available if you are able to demonstrate a downturn in revenue of more than 30% since January 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. Where you expect a downturn in the next three months then you can also apply. More details for sole traders here and for employers here.
Leave and Self-isolation Support
Support is also available for sick leave for staff who are required to self-isolate. These payments must be passed directly to the relevant staff. Useful links to the Government sites with more detail on the support available and to the online application portals are here and here.
Business Cashflow and Tax Measures
Other government measures include relief if you are unable to meet your tax obligations due to the impact of COVID-19. Assistance for businesses can be found here, assistance for individuals can be here and the Proposed Business Continuity Package for 2020/2021 here.
IRD advice on dealing with COVID-19 can be found here
Self-employed Creative Sector Workers
We have received information from WeCreate regarding the self-employed creative sector workers’ eligibility for the COVID19 wage subsidy which might be of use to you. The Ministry of Social Development have been in discussion with Inland Revenue and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and have advised:
- Creative sector workers who can demonstrate either a 30%+ decline due to COVID-19 in their average monthly revenue across the last 12 months, or can provide proof of cancellations of work due to COVID-19 amounting to a 30%+ decline in revenue, will be eligible to access the Wage Subsidy.
- Self-employed creative sector workers whose primary source of income is from their creative endeavours, and who otherwise qualify for the Wage Subsidy, will be eligible as ‘working 20 hours or more per week’.
- Self-employed applicants should type in ‘Sole Trader’ in the ‘NBN number’ field of the application form.
- MSD were a little unclear as to the requirements for licences, permits, qualifications and such (as below), but seem most concerned about the economic criteria as above, and suggested that the below are not likely to require proof – though they will look into it:
The criteria also state that Sole Traders must have:
- government licences and permits for their business needs, and
- qualifications or registrations for their trade or profession
WeCeate advise that increasing numbers of sole traders and small businesses in the creative sector are being accepted for, and receiving, the wage subsidy with no issues. The scheme seems to be operating on a very high level of trust – so all applicants must ensure that they are able to prove their financial criteria for receiving the subsidy in due course.
Essential Services during Alert Level 4
Essential services are any the Government has decided can continue operating at their premises, under Alert Level 4. All essential services will still need to operate in a way that limits the risk of the spread and transmission of COVID-19.
The government has updated its list of ‘essential services’ as of 1 April 2020. For a more details and a full list of essential services click here.
Creative New Zealand response to COVID-19
Creative New Zealand has opened its first phase Emergency Response Package, a $16 million investment to be distributed to the arts sector through to 30 June 2020 (the end of Creative New Zealand’s financial year). For more details and to apply click here.
For information on the Creative New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response plus other resources and information relevant for literary publishers click here
Education New Zealand
For Education New Zealand’s response to the outbreak click here.
International Publishers Association
The International Publishers Association is gathering links to the activities of publishers, their associations and governments on its site here.
The PANZ office is now open again and Catriona and Katherine are available by phone and email; please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Likewise PANZ Council will continue to work on support for members.