We've put together these resources to help you, your family and your business make it through the Covid-19 crisis. New Zealand as of the 26th of March has enacted it's Level 4 response, but together we'll make it through. #Uniteagainstcovid19
The goal of this article is not to find loopholes, or legal advice, rather to help you understand what's available and advice for working from home. Remember to stay up to date by visiting the New Zealand government's official site.
Like businesses everywhere, adapting to the rules set in the Level 4 response has been our number one priority, because protecting the health of our staff, families and community is a serious matter.
During the Level 4 lockdown we will be providing parts and dispatch to those in essential services, this service will be on call so our staff can be at home where they belong. This doesn't mean that we're shut, far from it, as a team we are undergoing one big training session to build ourselves up, ready to launch back as soon as we can!
Sales, Service, Management, Finance and Marketing are all operating remotely ready to assist in any way we can. Our regular phone, email and online channels are open and you can now book meetings with us directly online.
Applying for the wage subsidy
The government has provided the opportunity for businesses to apply for a subsidy to help out during the tougher economic situation businesses are facing. The government has made it easy to get this wage subsidy and simple to apply for and receive. We know of a local company that submitted their application for the wage subsidy earlier this week and they received the full subsidy the next day. Make sure you fill out all the paperwork that is required to speed up the process, please though make sure to read the declaration carefully to comply with the rules set out to qualify.
**Please note: the information below is not legal or employment advice.**
There are two different subsidy packages – these are based on the Employer Leave Subsidy (when an employee is unable to work) and the Employer Wage Subsidy (when a business is facing financial hardship due to Covid-19)
We cover both of these packages below:
Covid-19 Leave SubsidyThis is no longer available. Applications already in progress will continue to be processed according to the Covid-19 official site.
Covid-19 Wage Subsidy
- This subsidy is to help businesses that are facing financial hardship due to Covid-19.
- The purpose of this subsidy is to support businesses who have been impacted so they are able to continue paying wages.
- To qualify
- The revenue decrease is for any month from January to June 2020 compared with that same month from the previous year. This also includes projected revenue
- If your business is going have a 30% decrease in revenue this may be applied for.
- For companies with over 100 staff please visit the following link to apply for the subsidy https://workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-large-employers.html
- Your company must be registered and employees must be legally working in NZ
- You must make best efforts to retail all staff and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the period of the subsidy (12 weeks)
- The subsidy is paid out at a flat rate per employee
- For each employee that works over 20 hours a week - $585.80
- For each employee that works under 20 hours a week – $350.00
- This is calculated, the total employees in each group, at the specific pay rate for that group. Then for a 12 week period.
- 10 staff @ $585.80 – $5,858.00
- 2 staff @ $350.00 - $700.00
- Total weekly allocation $6,558.00
- Total lump sum (12 weeks) - $78,696.00
- For example, if you have 10 staff that work over 20 hours, and 2 that work under 20 hours
- The payment will be received as a lump sum into your nominated account.
- Businesses can only receive this subsidy once
To apply for either subsidy use the following link. https://services.workandincome.govt.nz/ess/employer_applications/new
Once you have submitted the application the expected time frame for receiving the payment is 5 days, this may fluctuate depending on the volume of applications that are being processed, the situation is constantly evolving and the Government may change the subsidy parameters to suit.
Stay up to date with the latest financial actions here: https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/financial-support/
For more information on the subsidies please visit: https://workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-support.html#null
Or call the government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week) or on 0800 22 66 57 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday).
If you have any questions we would recommend that you get qualified legal advice.
Working from home for teams
Working from home is a bigger adjustment that you may initially think! We thought so anyway, so we've made this handy guide for to get up and running quickly. "Now wait a sec'" you say, "I'm a contractor, how do I or my staff work from home?", that's a good question, and certainly work for the next few weeks is going to be different, but we encourage anyone, work on yourself, work on the business, get things you've been neglecting sorted.
Could it be a good time to work on a company website? A facebook page? (we wrote an article on that here.) Or get the books in order? If you've got the time you can get ahead on these tasks so that when you can return to your main work, you'll have these often neglected tasks sorted. Having your ship in shape will mean your in better shape to bounce back.
COVID-19 Working from Home Guide
As we all prepare for a period of self-isolation and working from home, we have put together a guide on practical steps you can take to ensure all our staff are working safely and efficiently from their homes.
In this guide, we cover these four basics
Communications is the number one thing to get right. There are a few different ways to communicate at different levels through the company.
Our desired platforms are as below1. Phone calls - This is for urgent or time sensitive communications – there is no faster way then picking up the phone and calling a team member or customer.
2. Your online meeting system – The desired system to use for when holding online meetings and group communications. When holding meetings, we need to ensure that we have our cameras turned on, so it is more like a face to face conversation the same as we are at work.
3. Your team chat system - This is for any group updates e.g. on the whole company or department level teams, should only be small updates for quick and easy communications.
4. Email - This is for sharing larger documents and more informative and or sensitive communications.
Health & Safety
Health & Safety while working from home is just as important as while at work, here are some suggestions1. If you don't have a desk, work from the dining table or kitchen bench (not the couch or bed).
2. If your setup is not ergonomic, work at it for an hour at a time. You should have at least 10-20 minutes of break or other tasks away from that station between each hour. This may stretch out the workday, but it will save their body from RSI and other long-term injuries.
3. Instead of taking meetings on the laptop, consider doing phone catch ups and encourage people to take a walk outside/around the house while they're on the meeting.
4. This is a time where people will start getting creative, please share your own tips and tricks.
We need to ensure we are all working from home as we would be working at work, here is our team guidelines1. Create a workspace – If you can, use a room you can shut off from the rest of the house. If not, a corner that you can mentally “put away” when you’re not working. Make sure you follow Work from home ergonomic guide as closely as you can and read up on how to work more ergonomically at home in this NYPost article.
3. Get out – Start your day with a quick walk/run/trip out of the house, this is to show your mind that you have left home and are now in working mode
4. Get dressed – Put on your normal work clothes that you normally go to work in. It will get you in the right mindset to work, and will make your comfy clothes that much better when you put them on at the end of the day, this also helps differentiate the difference from being ‘at work’ compared to being ‘at home’
5. Eat well – Try to stick to fresh fruit, veggies and carbs (like oats/rice) that will keep you full and sustain your energy. Not only is this building your immunity, but you’ll avoid getting sugar crashes and losing your concentration.
6. Non-flexible hours – Work to your normal working hours, we also require everyone to keep a time log of their hours to hand into their team leader at the end of each week.
7. End your workday – Try to physically end your workday. Whether it’s packing everything away, going for another walk or changing your clothes. A physical change acts as a notice to your subconscious that you’re switching gears. This is important for your mental health and to stop the feeling of always needing to be “on-call”. Make sure you respect your team’s work hours as well, we all need time to connect with our loved ones, pets and hobbies.
Our team's mental health is extremely important while working from home. This is a tough time for all of us, and something we have never faced before. With that said, working from home gives us all the opportunity to build in some habits to help our mental health.1. Keep/start exercising - If you usually go to the gym, but can’t anymore, keep up your exercises at home. There are plenty of YouTube workout classes, from yoga to HIIT training, that you can do at home. If that’s not really your cup of tea, consider taking a walk every day to get some fresh air, sunshine and to reset your mind.
2. Keep in touch with people - Use the internet and your phones to catch up with your people. Check in on your neighbours and anyone you know who may need assistance. We’re social beings and it’s important for all of us to keep up the communication.
3. Meditate - There are plenty of apps and YouTube videos for beginners to try. Meditating is a proven way to relax our minds, focus on what matters and calm anxiety.
4. Play music and podcasts - Going from a noisy workplace to the silence of home can feel peaceful at first, but it can also quickly start to weigh on you. Blast your favourite music, check out “Low-fi music” YouTube videos for concentration or get into podcasts to bring some life to your house while you work.
Ask your team to recommend their favourite podcasts and playlists, you never know what you might discover!
Top apps we can recommend:
You've probably used it already, but an easy way to stay in touch with people, it works off your cell phone number. It also allows you to send pictures and videos for free, all you need is wifi or data, plus if you have limits on your calls and texts, you won't need to worry. Click here.
Zoom is easy to install on your laptop/desktop, mobile and tablet and makes setting up online virtual meetings easy. Best of all it's free plan is pretty generous, allowing unlimited meetings and up to 100 people to join at a time as long as it's not longer than 40 minutes. Click here.
Linkedin Learning is a great curated learning platform with videos that are purpose made and fact checked, making them accurate and trustworthy. You will find informative courses on key business and industry skills like: building a job proposal and bid, managing sub-contractors, practical engineering tips, how to perform volume calculations and labour units, etc. Best of all you can get a 30 day free trial to fill your time in and learn something new! Click here. (click try for free)
Contributors: Alana Mays, Camille Faulkner, Jacob Hart and Simon Johnston