New COVID-19 Payment Supports Businesses

Social Development and Employment Workplace Relations and Safety

From tomorrow employers can receive a $350 payment if their employees cannot work from home while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP), is part of the Government’s Business Support Package and reinforces an ongoing commitment to helping businesses and their employees navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. It will apply to COVID-19 tests taking place from 9 February 2021.

“Business has a key role to play in helping New Zealand navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni. “Testing for COVID-19 remains a critical ongoing element in our elimination strategy. We need people to take the test if they feel unwell and removing any barriers is important.

“From tomorrow, businesses whose workers need to stay at home while they await a test result can contact MSD and apply for a one off $350 payment to help pay that staff member while they await a result, if they are unable to work from home.

“This payment will help reduce financial pressure on businesses and encourage them to continue their valuable role in keeping COVID-19 in check. 

“STAP also covers household contacts (or secondary contacts) who are staying at home in line with public health guidance, while waiting for a close contact to get a test result.

“We’ve made it easy to apply for, with a very simple application criteria.  I encourage any business whose employees are waiting for a test to get in touch with MSD and apply for the payment,” says Carmel Sepuloni.

Minister for Workplace Relations Michael Wood says the new payment will help businesses do their part to keep New Zealanders safe and keep COVID-19 out of the community.

“We’ve listened to businesses and workers alike who said we needed a way to support businesses to help workers stay home if they’re getting tested. STAP complements the existing COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme to support businesses when they have employees at risk of spreading infection. 

"The Short-Term Absence Payment can be used to cover the cost of a worker’s sick leave for those who are feeling unwell and is also available to enable businesses to continue to pay workers who aren’t eligible for sick leave or don’t have any sick leave left. This helps everyone stay home and stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Increasing the minimum entitlement of sick leave to ten days and giving employers a helping hand throughout the pandemic shows our balanced approach,” Michael Wood says.