COVID-19: Your rights at Red

Aotearoa is now at the Red Traffic Light setting

As at every stage in the pandemic, E tū members around Aotearoa continue to organise and push for improved workplace rights.

Union officials remain available at the Red Light setting to support members.

As a union, we have planned for the transition and will be closely monitoring the latest developments to make sure E tū members are well informed and well represented as we continue through this next phase of Omicron.

What you can do

By keeping in touch with your workmates, delegates, and other union members, you can help to ensure that all workers are treated with respect and dignity.

If you know anyone who isn’t yet a union member, the best thing you can do is encourage them to join today.

Together, we can have a louder voice and take more action to achieve a fairer society – during and after the pandemic.

Your rights under the Red Light setting

Making sure that you continue to receive your wages and are safe at work is the priority of our union.

If you need to self-isolate at home, care for whānau, or take time off before or after receiving a vaccine or booster, you should receive the same pay and benefits as if you were at work.

Please take a moment to read through your rights at work below.

As always, if you have questions, our team are here – contact us on or by calling 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466).

Key takeaways for all workers

1. Do not sign any variations to your agreement

Some employers may ask their workers to sign something that changes their employment conditions, such as agreeing to reduced pay.

Do not sign this.

Instead, let them know that you will talk to your union first. Then, contact your delegate or our team by emailing or calling 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466).

2. You shouldn’t have to lose any pay or use your leave if you’re off work for COVID-19-related reasons

E tū’s position is that your boss should pay you for your normal hours of work if you are required to self-isolate, care for dependents, or need time to get a vaccine.

The Government has set up the ‘Leave Support Scheme’ to help your employer meet their costs, so you shouldn’t have to use your leave.

However, we are aware some companies are telling people to use up their leave.

If this is happening where you work, organising together with your workmates is the strongest and most powerful message you can send to your boss about doing the right thing during COVID-19.

3. Your health and safety is the top priority

At work, your health and safety needs to come first.

This is particularly important for our many essential workers who aren’t able do their jobs remotely, and for workers who can’t work at home.

All workers need to be provided with all the necessary PPE by their employers.

In higher-risk workplaces, this could mean access to N95 masks or rapid antigen tests (RATs).

4. Your union is YOU and YOUR workplaces, and our staff are here to support you to organise for change

More than ever, we need to stand tall together to make sure our rights are respected, and we have everything we need to stay safe at work.

E tū’s team of organisers will be open for calls and emails as usual during business hours.

Get in touch with us for any advice or support you may need regarding anything happening at your workplace.

You can contact our team by emailing or calling 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466).

What life means at Red

Here’s a quick refresh of how we protect each other under the Red Light setting:

  • Wear a face covering wherever you go. These are mandatory on flights, public transport, taxis, retail, and public venues.
  • With a My Vaccine Pass, you can visit cafes and bars, attend gatherings and events, and visit close contact businesses like hairdressers. Some limits like capacity and distancing requirements will apply.
  • Without My Vaccine Pass, there are more restrictions in place. For example, you can’t visit close contact businesses like hairdressers or gyms, attend events like concerts, or dine in at cafes and restaurants.
  • Workplaces and schools are open, but public health measures will be in place.
  • Keep scanning QR codes and record keeping wherever you go.
  • Keep physically distanced by at least one metre, wherever possible.
  • If you have cold or flu symptoms, isolate immediately and call Healthline for advice about a test.

In the meantime…

Stay informed by following the official channels

The best and most accurate information about the COVID-19 response can always be found at and by listening to the official announcements.

Together, we are stronger

A union is only as strong, effective, and powerful as the members who participate in its operation and activities.

Good on you for being an E tū member – you’re a part of a team which is committed to making positive change in our workplaces and communities.

Last updated: 25 January 2022