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COVID-19 income subsidies - latest modifications

There have been some significant updates since the last business package was announced, we'll cover some of the subsidies available to your business.


Mar 25, 2020

Since the initial business support package was announced, there have been some significant updates, including a total nationwide investment of between $8 billion and $12 billion, depending on the uptake by businesses. We're going to look in more detail at the wage subsidy and what that leave support means now.

Wage subsidy

If you've got employees (or are a sole trader or self-employed), there's support for your business if you're impacted by COVID-19, and face laying off staff or reducing their wage below 80%. The full-time subsidy (20 hours or more) is $585 per week, and the part-time subsidy (less than 20 hours) is $350 per week per employee.

To qualify:

  • You must undertake best efforts to pay your employees 80% of their pre-COVID income. If that's not possible, for example your business has no activity due to the shutdown and your employees aren't working any hours, then you pass on at least the whole subsidy value to each affected employee.
  • Your business must undertake to keep employees in employment for the period of the subsidy.
  • Your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand.
  • Your employees must be legally working in New Zealand.
  • The scheme covers all businesses, registered charities, non-governmental organisations, incorporated societies, and post-settlement governance entities.

The full summary is on Work and Income.

As an employer you apply on behalf of your staff at Work and Income. There's also a great list of commonly asked questions online here as well.

Leave subsidy


The government are folding the previous sick leave scheme into the wage scheme to prevent double-dipping. The original sick leave scheme was designed when few people were in self-isolation, so that makes it no longer fit for purpose. There will be further updates to this as the government are working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

Help with essential costs 


If you’ve lost your job, can’t work at the moment, or your income has been reduced, you may be able to get a benefit or some other financial help from Work and Income.

If you’re struggling to meet your living costs or had an unexpected bill, there is support available.

Work and Income may be able to help with urgent costs such as:

  • Food
  • Accommodation costs (rent, mortgage, board)
  • Power, gas, water bills, and heating
  • Medical and dental costs
  • Bedding

You can find more information about financial support (including eligibility criteria) at Work and Income


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