Important information for NZ businesses around COVID-19 in 2022

COVID-19 has impacted the life of New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses since March 2020, and it has been quite a journey trying to figure this pandemic and life around it, especially when it comes to workplaces and constantly evolving rules and regulations around it. As a business owner in New Zealand, you have to look out for yourself, your team and any other stakeholders during these times and also ensure that you are in compliance with government policies in relation to Covid 19. It’s important to keep yourself updated and on track with the different rules and recommendations.  

Here is some information on New Zealand’s current COVID-19 response

  • anyone with symptoms must get a test
  • confirmed cases need to isolate for 7 days after their symptoms first occurred or they received their positive test result, whichever ends sooner
  • household contacts need to isolate at least until the confirmed case in their household has completed their 7 days of isolation as above
  • all household contacts must test on day 3 and day 7 or as soon as possible if they develop any symptoms
  • if a household contact tests positive, they become a confirmed case themselves and must isolate for 7 days as above
  • a person who was previously a confirmed case who has finished their 7 days of isolation is not considered a household contact for 90 days after their first day of isolation even if someone else in their household becomes a confirmed case
  • other close contacts who are not household contacts do not need to isolate but should monitor for symptoms.

If a household contact is vaccinated and asymptomatic, they may be able to continue to work if they:

  • work in a ‘bubble of one’, if they are not customer facing and follow strict health protocols ‘Bubble of one’ for workers who are contacts required to isolate’
  • are a critical worker who provides a health service, managed isolation or quarantine service, emergency service or works for a critical service provider and follows strict health protocols (as per the Close Contact Exemption Scheme).

Here are some tips to reduce infections at your workplace:

  • Understand the COVID-19 framework and ask for help if you have any questions. Follow all the rules and ensure your business is following the indoor capacity limits that are in place.
  •  Encourage your workers to get vaccinated and if they are all vaccinated, request them to get the booster shot as well if they qualify. Check if your industry is impacted by vaccination mandates
  •  Your employees will have to isolate if they test positive and will be unable to work from the office. So plan for such scenarios and see if remote working will work for your industry. Talk to some IT providers – they might have a remote working solution for you.
  • Review hygiene levels at your workplace and talk about healthy habits with your employees. When was the last time you reviewed hygiene, cleaning and ventilation practices?
  • Purchase sanitisers for use and good quality hand wash. More on healthy habits here.

Plan for when COVID-19 affects your business

  • Do you have a Work from Home policy? Multiple lockdowns in the last 2 years have shown us that working from home is possible and effective. If your business can function by working from home, you should consider re-working your policies to factor this in. Speak to an employment lawyer if you need help.
  • Split your team up and have them work in batches – this limits their exposure to other team members.
  • Have a contingency plan – this will come in handy not only with COVID-19 but also with other business interruptions.
  • Involve your team and get suggestions from them on how to tackle COVID-19 and the business. Management and staff have to work together in unity to ensure the business runs smoothly.
  • If you have a list of contacts that have come in contact with your business, create a mailing list to send out a news blast if your team have tested positive or any other time-sensitive information.
  • There is financial support available to businesses, even if you are self-employed. There is COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment as well as COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – get in touch with Work and Income if you need support.

Look after yourself and your team. COVID-19 has affected us all and managing your business through the pandemic can be challenging. If you need help or advice, speak to a licensed professional for some guidance.