Who can get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

Employers, including self-employed people, and their employees need to meet certain criteria to apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should call the dedicated, free COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

For any other health concerns call the general Healthline number 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 also have the Short-Term Absence Payment available to employers. You cannot get more than one COVID-19 payment for the same employee at the same time from us. Find COVID-19 support for businesses

Criteria you need to meet

Your employee must meet health criteria

Your employee must have been advised to self-isolate for a period of at least four consecutive days for any one of the following reasons (and be unable to work from home for that period):

  • they have COVID-19 or
  • they are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19 or
  • they are the parent or caregiver of a dependant who has been advised to self-isolate or
  • they are in the category of people most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or
  • they have household members in the category of people who are most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Your employee, or their dependant, must have been advised to self-isolate by any one of the following:

  • a medical officer of health (as defined in the Health Act 1956) or their delegate eg the Ministry of Health or a public health unit or
  • a medical practitioner (as defined in the Health Act 1956) eg your GP or doctors at the hospital or
  • the National Investigation and Tracing Centre.

Employees, or their dependants, who have been named as someone who must stay at home or in a managed isolation facility under the relevant legislative order or direction outlined in the declaration are also eligible, as long as they are not self-isolating because they have returned from overseas.

If you've just hired an employee who hasn't started work yet, and they meet this criteria, you can apply for them. You also need to make sure you meet the other criteria on this page.

Employees who are not covered

The Leave Support Scheme cannot be paid for employees, or self-employed people, who:

  • are a household member or secondary contact (as described in public health guidelines) of a person who has been identified as a close contact of a person who has COVID-19
  • are casual contacts of someone who has COVID-19
  • are sick with COVID-19-like symptoms and are staying home while waiting for a test result but can return to work if the test result is negative (ie they have not been told to self-isolate by a doctor or through the National Contact Tracing process)
  • are a New Zealander currently overseas
  • have returned from overseas and must self-isolate in managed isolation facilities or elsewhere for a period
  • employed as an air-crew member and required to comply with any orders
  • are unable to work as they believe that continued work during COVID-19 is harmful to their physical or mental health
  • are unable to work for any other reason, for example, bereavement
  • are already getting the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy, Leave Support Scheme or Short-Term Absence Payment for the same period.

You must be an eligible employer, which includes:

  • registered businesses
  • registered charities
  • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
  • the self-employed and sole traders[KH1]
  • incorporated societies
  • post-settlement governance entities

State sector organisations

State sector organisations are generally not eligible to get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. This includes:

  • government agencies, such as:
    • Ministry of Health
    • District Health Boards
    • Inland Revenue
    • Ministry of Social Development
  • Crown entities, such as:
    • Kāinga Ora
    • Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
  • state and state-integrated schools
  • tertiary education institutions, such as:
    • universities
    • polytechnics
    • institutes of technology
    • wānanga

State sector organisations do not include:

  • local Government, such as:
    • regional councils
    • city councils
    • district councils
  • kindergartens
  • some early childhood services
  • health and disability facilities or services that receive funding from government agencies.

A state sector organisation can ask for an exception to become eligible to apply for the Leave Support Scheme. State sector organisations should contact their monitoring agency if they wish to discuss this.

Businesses contracted to provide services to state sector employers

  • These businesses (eg cleaning, security, etc) are not state sector employers. They can apply for the Leave Support Scheme if they meet the other qualifications.

Your business must be in New Zealand

  • Your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand.
  • physically located in New Zealand, and
  • your employees legally work in New Zealand.

Sole traders

Sole traders must have:

  • a personal IRD number for paying income tax and GST
  • government licences and permits for their business needs, and
  • qualifications or registrations for their trade or profession.

Sole traders must still meet the requirements to be physically located and legally working in New Zealand.

Your employees must be legally working in New Zealand

Legally working in New Zealand means a person is both working in New Zealand and is legally entitled to work in New Zealand.

A person is legally entitled to work in New Zealand if they:

  • are a New Zealand or Australian citizen (including a person born in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau), or
  • have a New Zealand residence class visa (eg, permanent residence visa or returning resident visa), or
  • have a New Zealand work visa or a condition on their New Zealand temporary visa that allows them to work in New Zealand (eg, work visa or student visa that allows them to work).

For more information, visit the Employment New Zealand website.

You must have had a conversation with your employee

You must:

  • discuss an application with your employees before making it
  • get their consent to the relevant points outlined in the declaration
  • agree that they fall into one of the eligible groups, and
  • confirm that they cannot work from home.

When you apply, you'll need to confirm that you've read, understood and agree to a declaration. That includes declaring you've confirmed with your employee that they meet the health criteria.