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Pandemic Planning

Every day we are hearing of the growing impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on New Zealand.

With the Government increasing its response to the threat of infection, we are seeing an increasing number of cancellation of major events.

Tourism and sports are among the first to feel the impact due to restrictions on large gatherings. We also now have a requirement on anyone returning to New Zealand from overseas to self isolate for 14 days. We can expect to see more impacts before things get better.

McKone Consultancy recommends that businesses look closely at their pandemic planning to ensure they have considered how the impact of any current, or future, Government restriction may affect their business. The impact, if it hits you, may prevent or severely limit your ability to maintain business as usual.

One of the biggest impacts these restrictions may have on your business is your ability to provide work for or to pay your employees. One of the last things a business needs is to lose its most valuable resource - its people.

Review your pandemic plan to know how you are going to support your staff through the impact, should Covid-19 (coronavirus) mean your business has either a reduced capacity or loses the ability to trade.

While there is generally no contractual requirement to pay staff in situations of crisis, employers do have a moral decision to make in respect to how they treat their staff. Once a crisis is over, business needs to be able to return to its normal trading levels as soon as possible. If you lose your staff, your ability to recover from a crisis may be limited.

Your pandemic planning should include the following considerations for staff, if you have to stand them down:

  • How much paid sick leave will you extend?

  • Will you limit this to contractual entitlements only?

  • Will you let staff who request it, take annual leave?

  • Will you allow staff to take leave without pay?

  • Will you allow staff to anticipate some of their next year's accrued annual leave? Note: If you do, remember to allow them to retain at least two weeks for their next year of service.

  • How long can you keep staff on your books, even if they take leave without pay?

  • Consider seeking input from your staff for their ideas on how they can help your business survive any downturn arising from Covid-19.

Keep an eye on the Ministry of Health website for updates on Covid-19.

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