Changes to the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

22 September 2020.

The Government has announced changes to the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. These changes will expand the eligibility to workers who have been told to self-isolate. It’s so they can continue to be paid if they can’t work from home. The payment length will also change to a 2 week lump sum payment.

The support is so employees and self-employed people can still receive an income while self-isolating because they either:

  • are sick with COVID-19 and must self-isolate for a period, or
  • are identified as someone who has or may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and must self-isolate for a period, eg:
    • a close contact who has been told to self-isolate by a health official through the contact tracing process
    • someone with COVID-like symptoms who meets the Ministry of Health's Higher Index of Suspicion criteria and has been told to self-isolate by a doctor
    • casual contacts who have been told to self-isolate by a health official through the contact tracing process
  • are the parent or caregiver of a dependant who has been told to self-isolate for a period and the dependant needs support to do so safely, or
  • are sick with COVID-like symptoms and work in a health and disability or aged-care facility or service and need to self-isolate while awaiting a test or test result (note there are other criteria the employer will need to meet), or
  • are considered 'higher risk' if they contract COVID-19 and a doctor has told them to self-isolate while there’s active community transmission, or
  • have household members who are considered 'higher risk' if they contract COVID-19 and a doctor has told them to self-isolate while there is active community transmission.

Anyone who is unwell should call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or talk to their doctor or health provider. Employers should encourage their employees to do this if they're unwell.

We won't verify the worker's reason for self-isolation. Employers will be asked to declare that their employee advised them that they meet one of the criteria above. Self-employed people will be asked if they meet one of the criteria as part of their application.

The payment length will change from 4 weeks to 2 weeks. Employers can reapply every 2 weeks for the same employee if they continue to meet the criteria. Self-employed people can reapply for their payment if they continue to meet the criteria.

Who decides if a worker needs to self-isolate

The worker must have been told to self-isolate by a health official, such as:

  • a Medical Officer of Health or their delegate (eg a DHB Public Health Unit)
  • a medical practitioner, for example, a doctor (GP)
  • a health official through the Ministry of Health’s National Contact Tracing process
  • their employer (for healthcare, disability or aged-care workers) following best practice guidance from the Ministry of Health.

When these changes come into effect

The changes to the eligibility and the payment length will come into effect from midday 28 September 2020.

We’ll update our Leave Support Scheme information at this time.