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Reply To:  Hi I’m hoping you can help us. We have a cleaning business in chch and we have been told that yes we can start work tomorrow. Now we have a staff member who is voicing she doesn’t feel safe working. Now we have the government wage subsidy but if she chooses not to come to work do we still pay her or does she need to work to get paid as we can work. We clean in schools which at this moment are empty and she will be working in 2m distance. Thank you so much for your help

You are facing a very real challenge with this employee – because to get your business moving you need people at work. If you provide this option to one person there is the chance that others may also want the same treatment.

The precautions that are required to be taken to return to work are clear – if you walk your employee through the steps that you have taken to keep them and their bubble safe. Are there other reasons that they cannot come to work – vulnerable family members, child care issues?

I would expect the government to merge/clarify the eligibility for the Wage Subsidy Scheme with the Essential Workers Leave Payment Scheme within the next week. The essential workers scheme has clear guidelines of when workers are eligible for the subsidy and top up – this meant for many that unless there was a good reason if they chose not to come to work they would not get paid.

The NZ police took a strong stance with people that could work but were choosing not to in the early days of Level 4 – though I can’t find the article now.

In our business we took our time on these issues – letting the employee know that we would follow the rules but they were unclear. We revised our position as the guidelines/programs were put in place by the government.

In the short term is there the option to pay the subsidy only, revising every week until the rules are clarified.