COVID-19: Leave info for E tū members

Dear members,

We have been working around the clock to put together as much information and advice for you as possible. With the situation changing significantly every single day, everyone can feel anxious and overwhelmed very easily. However, now that the country is moving into Alert Level 4 (non-essential services staying at home) for four weeks, we’ve all got a better idea of what we’re dealing with in for immediate future.

Alert Level 4: what this means for your work

From 11:59pm tonight (Wednesday, 25 March), the whole country moves into Alert Level 4 – the highest of the alert levels announced, which basically means that everybody who is not in an essential industry needs to stay home.

Some people in essential services will continue working (with increased health and safety measures very important). Some people are able to do some or all of their work from home. Some people will have to be off work from the whole four weeks.

It is our strong view that all workers should be paid in full during this period, no matter what their circumstances are.

Different leave scenarios

You are self-isolating because of advice or direction from the Government, including if you are vulnerable (e.g. over 70 or have outstanding health issues), or because of Alert Level directions (e.g. all non-essential workers to stay home, which is the case while we are currently at Level 4)

  • You should be on full pay.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave.
  • If you are able to do some or all of your work from home, your employer can require that.

You are sick with COVID-19

  • Additional sick leave should be given.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave.
  • You should not be made to work from home while you are sick.

You are self-isolating because you may have been exposed to COVID-19 (whether that happened at work or not)

  • You should be on full pay.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave.
  • If you are able to do some or all of your work from home, your employer can require that.

You are at home because you are caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19, or caring for someone who is required to self-isolate because of vulnerability or potential exposure

  • You should be on full pay.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave.
  • If you are able to do some or all of your work from home, your employer can require that.

You develop COVID-19 symptoms while at home

  • Call Healthline immediately on 0800 611 116.
  • You should be on full pay.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave.

You are self-isolating because you have arrived back to New Zealand from overseas after departing BEFORE 15 March 2020

  • You should be on full pay.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave, unless you agree to it.
  • If you are able to do some or all of your work from home, your employer can require that.

You are self-isolating because you have arrived back to New Zealand from overseas after departing AFTER 15 March 2020

  • You may have to use some of your leave as you should have been aware of the self-isolation requirements before leaving.
  • If you are able to do some or all of your work from home, your employer can require that.

You are unable to return to New Zealand due to border restrictions

  • You should be on full pay.
  • You should not have to use any of your leave, including annual leave, sick leave, or other leave, unless you agree to it.
  • If you are able to do some or all of your work from where you are, your employer can require that.

You are sick with an illness that is not COVID-19

  • Your sick leave should be used as normal.
  • You should not be made to work while you are sick.

You are sick with an illness that is not COVID-19 but you have run out of paid sick leave

  • You should discuss your options with your employer.
  • You and your employer may decide to use other leave, such as any annual leave, other leave, leave in advanced, discretionary leave, or leave without pay.

International and domestic travel

Work-related international travel

All non-essential international business travel to June is cancelled and any future booking are deferred until further notice, including to Australia. Non-essential travel includes all travel for the purposes of training, education, conference, seminar or meeting attendance.

The employer will consider exceptional circumstances where work related travel may be supported and approved, subject to New Zealand and international travel advisories.

Work-related domestic travel

All work-related domestic travel must be approved by the employer and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Where videoconferencing is available, this will be preferred. Note that approval will not be given where that approval will be in breach of any Government Directives for COVID-19 management.

Personal travel

Please consider carefully any private international travel and discuss this with your line manager before you travel. If you choose to travel and self-isolation is required on return as a result, special leave will not apply in most situations, unless there are exceptional circumstances by agreement with your manager, and other forms of leave and or alternative working arrangements, such as working from home, will be discussed with your line manager. Special circumstances might include urgent family emergencies such as bereavement.

What this means for employers

  1. Where a staff member is ready and willing to work but the employer requires them to stay home or self-isolate, they will be entitled to special leave.
  2. When employees must stay home due to government direction (such as requirements for Alert Level 4), they should be paid normally and not have to use any of their accrued leave.
  3. The employer should seek government funding and the support of their bank to help cover the cost of employees ill with COVID-19 or required to self-isolate, in the event of the employer being an essential industry.
  4. The full amount of COVID-19 funding must be used for the staff member for whom the application was made. It is important that it is used for special leave over and above the worker’s standard leave balance and entitlements, which should not be reduced due to the need for compliance with COVID-19 public health measures.
  5. Payment of sick leave will be in accordance with the staff member’s employment agreement and the Holidays Act.
  6. Where staff are off work due to public health advice, the employer will waive the requirement to produce a medical certificate after three days. However, the employer may require an alternative signed declaration from staff members.
  7. These guidelines do not replace terms and conditions of employment contained in employment agreements.
  8. The employer will consider employee vulnerability and all government directives when making leave decisions.
  9. The employer will inform E tū about any travel insurance cover relating to affected staff.

Please feel free to send this information directly to your employer. If they need further information from E tū, they can email us on: [email protected]

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