Bubble of One

Published: 9 March 2022
People who work alone, or have the capacity to do so, can continue operating and doing their jobs in a “bubble of one” even if they are identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case.

Any business where the worker can operate in isolation, away from other team members and customers can use the Bubble of One. This includes sole traders such as tradies. You will need to be able to do your job without interacting with others at any stage of your close contact period. 

Workers can continue to work if they are vaccinated, don’t have symptoms and don’t have contact with anyone else. These guidelines apply to any workers, not just critical workers, and do not require them to return regular tests.

All businesses are able to use “Bubble of One” for any worker, provided they can meet the requirements set out below. There are no registration requirements.

The Bubble requirement is met if the worker is undertaking work in an indoor or outdoor defined space, where there are no others present in that space (a defined space is either a room with no direct airflow into other spaces, or an outdoor space that is at least 2 metres away from other people at all times). 

Workers who are entering a person’s home should discuss the bubble requirements with the client in the first instance.

The worker must be:
  • Vaccinated
  • Without any symptoms (asymptomatic)
  • Able to maintain an individual ‘Bubble-of-One’ while at work, indoors or outdoors
  • Not customer-facing

See business.govt.nz for more information, including on meals and use of bathroom facilities.

More Support for Businesses

Published: 21 February 2022

This afternoon the Government announced more financial support for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Available from March 2022, this new six-week COVID Support Payment will be paid in fortnightly instalments to organisations that experienced a 40 percent drop in revenue over seven days, within the six weeks prior to 15 February 2022. 

Designed to support small businesses, the finance minister announced a payment of $4,000 per business plus $400 per FTE (full time equivalent employee), with a maximum of 50 employees or $24,000. 

The 40 percent drop in revenue is higher than previous support payment criteria as it is designed for those most in need.

It is reported that the peak of this current outbreak should pass in six weeks and this financial package has been created on that basis.

For support in calculating revenue drops or other financial guidance, please don't hesitate to contact our team. 

             


 

Phase 2 Response to Omicron

An overview for businesses

Published: 14 February 2022

Just like the virus, businesses and communities need to adapt as Omicron case numbers increase. The Government's phased approach allows for increasing levels of self management and monitoring to reduce the strain on the testing and health systems.

Phase 2 is all about slowing the spread of the virus and protecting vulnerable members of our community. Our team of five million moves to Phase Two on Tuesday 15 February at 11.59pm.The country remains at Red.

Four New Guidelines for Business

#1 Reduced Isolation Periods

Employees or workers who test positive will isolate for only ten days. Contacts will isolate for only seven days with a test on day five. Any worker with symptoms must isolate and get tested.

#2 More Digital Communications

Those with a positive result will find out by text, rather than by a telephone call. Most support and information for those isolating will be provided by email and website (including an online self-investigation tool), with telephone based support available when required.       

#3 Close Contact Exemption Scheme 

Asymptomatic critical workers can use RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) rather than isolating, following exposure to a case. If they have a negative RAT result they can return to work. The Close Contact Exemption Scheme registration portal opens today and includes an online tool to self-assess eligibility. Registration will enable businesses to access a free supply of RATs, with a large shipment due in the country at the end of the month. With an 80% accuracy rate, RATs are not a silver bullet for maintaining the safety of employees and customers and businesses must factor this into staffing decisions. To find out more about the registration process check out this guide

#4 Bubble of One

Where a person has come into close contact with a positive case, but can work alone, the Bubble of One Guideline allows these workers to continue operating as long as they are vaccinated and have no symptoms. They do not have to be critical workers and do not have to undergo regular testing. Working alone may occur inside or outside where there is no shared airflow or bathroom facilities and all travel is solo.

If you have any questions about managing your workforce in Phase Two, please reach out. We are here to support the business community.  

 

Rapid Antigen Tests for Businesses

How do businesses access them?

Published: 10 February 2022

As Omicron is transmitted through the community, mandatory isolation becomes the primary challenge for employers. This is on top of a fatigued nation where the tolerance for mask wearing and scanning is starting to wane. 

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) will soon become available for those businesses registered with the Critical Services Register. But what about non-critical businesses?

To date, non-critical businesses and individuals have been able to order Ministry of Health approved RATs online through approved providers. We have already seen the freight industry using these to proactively monitor their workforce. However, with the recent Government orders of millions of RATs, there remains confusion around whether existing orders from non-critical businesses or individuals will be fulfilled. 

Like other COVID hurdles, businesses need to look to similar countries (in terms of how COVID has been handled and the subsequent results). Australia has introduced a concessional access program that provides free RATs in pharmacies to low-income nationals exposed to COVID. With a negative result, workers are able to immediately return to 'normal' life. It is possible that the New Zealand Government will follow suit if it can secure sufficient tests.

However, until that time, prudent businesses need to do all in their power to keep their workforce safe. This may include working in shifts, not sharing the same work environment and working from home. The team at Sudburys has formed two groups, with weekly shifts in the office, alternating with working virtually.

Like most Kiwis, we are confident that our 'number eight' mentality will find a solution to whatever COVID throughs at us.

 


 

How COVID has changed business in New Zealand

The three trends you need to understand

Published: 9 February 2022

Once again, we have seen the impact of global business on our domestic economy as the world responds to COVID-19. Fortunately for New Zealand businesses, the disruption was primarily experienced internationally, prior to filtering through to New Zealand. This gave Kiwi businesses time and insight to plan ahead.

Over the last 24 months, we have observed three key changes to business in New Zealand:

  • Supply chain trends saw a move away from globalization and international trade and a move towards ‘on-shoring’ and ‘near-shoring’ as well as diversifying suppliers. This has had a two-fold impact with reduced demand for some NZ exports and poor supply of imported products as NZ is not deemed to be a significant market. The building industry has encountered timber supply issues due to demand for logs in China, one of our largest markets. While these issues stem from a Free Trade Agreement dating back to 2008 and no limitations on the volume of logs that must be kept for domestic use, COVID-19 has driven demand for housing and renovation work. Limited supply of timber has driven up its price with a flow on effect to the building sector.

  • The labour market overall has been fairly resilient through the pandemic, but experienced the most job losses in tourism, hospitality, travel and education. These losses were offset by increased labour demand in the healthcare sector, construction and public administration and safety. Increased flexibility around place of work and working hours, combined with increased online sales and vaccine mandates has driven significant movement in the labour market. Businesses need to embrace new ways of creating a positive culture in a virtual workforce to retain skilled workers.

  • Consumer needs have changed in what they buy, how they buy and what media they consume. Lockdowns and isolation requirements have driven increased online shopping and door to door delivery demand. Consumers are still mindful of environmentally friendly packaging, despite a reduced political focus on climate change. With less physical contact between brands and customers, quality digital communications are key in both driving brand awareness and managing transactions. In addition, control of the customer experience is impacted when delivering goods and services via a third party. This can be managed through careful monitoring of customer feedback and incentivising third party transporters to provide a certain standard of service. As supply issues create empty shelves, brand loyalty becomes more challenging but as you lose some customers, you may gain others. Consider your product / service portfolio and extend or reformat it to meet changing needs. These new behaviours actually create significant opportunity when proactively managed.
Key insights:

Underpinning a successful business response is access to quality digital infrastructure and quality logistics and the need to position innovation as a core part of the business (not a knee-jerk response to crisis).

 


 

The latest on COVID business funding

Are you getting the support you need?

Published: 8 February 2022

As the country has transitioned into the traffic light system (from the alert level system) it is a good time to revisit your options for business financial support. There are a variety of schemes so the Government has developed this tool to assess your work status, situation and whether your workplace has reduced business. It's also a good idea to have a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) which can make applying for financial support easier. If you are not sure if you have a number, or where to find your number, give us a call or check out this website.

Overview of Business Support
  • The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) provides a one-off (once per 30 days) $359 payment for workers (including self-employed workers) who must miss work and cannot work from home, due to a COVID-19 test. Further information about this payment is available on the MSD website.
  • The Leave Support Scheme (LSS) provides a two-week lump sum payment of either $600 per week for full-time workers, or $359 per week for part-time workers, who must self-isolate and cannot work from home. This includes self-employed workers. More information is available here.

  • The Small Business Cash Flow Loan Scheme (SBCS) provides a loan (must be repaid) of up to $100,000 to businesses employing 50 or fewer full-time employees, to assist with cash flow. This is made up of a lump sum of $10,000 plus an additional $1,800 for each full-time equivalent employee. It is interest free if the loan is repaid within two years and increases to a three percent interest rate for a maximum term of five years. To qualify you must show a 30% drop in revenue due to COVID-19 for a 14 day period in the past six months, compared with the same 14 day period in the year prior (or two years prior if the last year was also affected by COVID-19). Click here for more information about eligibility. 

  • The Events Transition Support Payment Scheme (ETSP) helps event organisers recover costs associated with the cancellation of a large scale event due to COVID-19. There is very specific criteria which you can see in detail here

  • The Wage Subsidy Scheme is closed.

  • The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is closed.
  • The Transition Payment is closed.

Got questions? Contact our team. We're here to help.



 

Can employers require a COIVD vaccine?

Yes...where there is risk

Published: 2 February 2022

Vaccination issues at work are governed by health and safety law, privacy law and employment law so business owners, employers, employees and contractors need to be well informed.

Here is an overview:
    • Border and managed isolation and quarantine facilities
    • Health and disability sector
    • Education sector
    • Work in prisons
    • Food and drink services (excluding businesses operating solely as takeaways), events, close proximity services* and indoor exercise facilities like gyms
    • Work at tertiary education premises (only at the Red level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework)
    • New Zealand Police (sworn members, recruits and authorised officers)
    • New Zealand Defence Force (Armed Forces and civilian staff).The Government has mandated that work be done by vaccinated people in these specific sectors or business types:
  • Regardless of Government mandates, businesses can decide to require vaccinations where there is risk. Check out WorkSafe’s risk assessment guide and the Vaccination Assessment Tool.
  • Businesses can also require vaccinations where the business provides services to a third party and that third party requires vaccinations, as a condition of the engagement.

As with many employer – employee issues, the quality of the communication will determine the outcome. Employers and managers should aim to be transparent in their communications with employees, listening to any concerns and responding in a timely manner.

If you encounter issues regarding COVID vaccinations, please feel free to give Cor, our HR specialists a call, or seek legal advice.


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