Lockdown leave, pay cuts, reduced hours: what’s allowed?
We’ve been getting quite a few questions from our clients during Level 4 lockdown about the responsibilities of employers. We’re not HR specialists or employment lawyers, so we don’t have all the answers. Luckily, the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has been busy setting out all the information you need.
Three of the most commonly asked questions are:
1. Can I make employees take annual leave during lockdown?
The short answer here is no. You can talk to your employees and try to come to an agreement about how their annual leave might be applied during lockdown, but you can’t make them take annual leave starting immediately. The only time you can make an employee take annual leave is when an agreement cannot be reached about when the annual leave will be taken – and you must give them at least 14 days’ notice. Get all the details here.
2. Can I make employees take a pay cut during lockdown?
Again, the short answer is no. You can negotiate for a change in pay, hours or duties, but you need to reach an agreement with the employee. It must be set out in writing and the employee needs time to consider the new arrangement.
Remember, you can apply for the wage subsidy or other financial support if your business revenue is suffering under lockdown. Read more about your options here.
3. Can I make my employees have a vaccination jab?
While you are allowed to make this part of any new employment agreement, you can only amend an employee’s existing agreement with their permission. So the short answer is no – unless you are offering an essential service – that requires only jabed employees such as work around MIQ facilities, port and travel and hospitals.
Where to find more information
The Employment website, provided by MBIE, lets you navigate all your responsibilities as an employer during lockdown. For instance:
- You can find out more about working at different lockdown levels here.
- There’s a page on financial support for businesses here.
- Information about vaccines and the workplace can be found here.
If you’re concerned about your business’s finances during this time, we can help you identify what help you might be entitled to and apply on your behalf, so give us a call – we’re here to help!
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