Coronavirus - business help

The swift impact of the global COVID-19 virus and the subsequent yo-yo between lockdowns is being felt by all types of businesses in different ways. How you can stay the most resilient, what your obligations are towards staff, what financial assistance is available, how to manage imports and exports are all key questions. We will add to this page as new information becomes available, but below are several handy links you may want to use.

This website has everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place. Learn the simple steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread. Find out what help is available and get the latest updates. 

Got symptoms?
Call your GP before you visit. Or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

AUG 2020, LEVEL 3 UPDATES

Resurgence Wage Subsidy

The COVID-19 Resurgence Wage Subsidy will cover 2 weeks of support. It will be available nationally for employers, including self-employed people, who have had, or expect to have, a revenue drop of at least 40% because of COVID-19, for a 14-day period between 12 August to 10 September, compared to a similar period last year can get the Subsidy.  The decline must be related to COVID-19. Applications can be made from 1pm on 21 August 2020 to 3 September 2020

Note: If you are already receiving payments from the Wage Subsidy, Wage Subsidy Extension or Leave Support Scheme, which covers a broader period, you cannot apply for the Resurgence Wage Subsidy. You can only receive one Wage Subsidy for each employee. You can read more information here.

Wage Subsidy Extension payment

A further Wage Subsidy Extension payment is available to support employers, including sole traders, who are still significantly impacted by COVID-19 after the Wage Subsidy ends. Applications are open from 10 June 2020 and close just before midnight on September 1 2020 Employers can apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension once you have finished paying your employees the original 12 week Wage Subsidy. To be eligible, your business must have had a revenue loss of at least 40% for a continuous 30 day period. You can apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension for your employee, even if you haven’t applied for the Wage Subsidy for them before and if you have applied for the Wage Subsidy or Leave Support Scheme for your employee, you need to wait until those payments are finished before you can apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension.

Leave Support Scheme

There are also changes to the Leave Support Scheme, which means businesses with workers who have been told by health officials or their medical practitioner to self-isolate will receive the equivalent of the wage subsidy to help cover that person’s wages for the time they cannot be at work. Your business does not need to meet a revenue threshold test if you apply after 21 August. 

CRITICAL INFORMATION WHEN MAKING CHANGES TO HOURS OF WORK, REMUNERATION OR BOTH.The biggest area where employers have uncertainty and have created risk for themselves is in relation to reducing the amount paid to employees, the hours of work provided or both. So what can you legally do and how do you go about implementing it? You can either reach out to the EMA, email Jason.Tuck@ema.co.nz or call their advice line 0800 300 382. 
 
The Small Business Cashflow (loan) Scheme 

This has been extended until the end of 2020. Applications opened on 12 May 2020 and can now be submitted up to and including 31 December 2020.Organisations and small to medium businesses, including sole traders and the self-employed, may be eligible for a one-off loan with a term of 5 years if they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Covid-19 Income Relief Payment

If any of your staff have lost their job between March and October this year due to COVID-19 they may be eligible for the Covid-19 Income Relief Payment, which would give them up to 12 weeks of payments to help with living costs after sudden job loss, and give them time to find other work. 
 
COVID-19 Business Advisory Fund

The Covid-19 Business Advisory Fund has been provided by government to enable businesses to access expert advice and support and is being administered through the Regional Business Partner Network. Business owners can access up to $5000 excl. GST per business from the COVID-19 Business Advisory Fund. Funding will provide support in areas such as HR, health and wellbeing, business continuity, cashflow and finance management, strategy and digital capability.
 
Contact Tracing Requirements
 
Remember that businesses are now required to display the official Tracer App QR Code.  In a change to previous advice, however, retail stores do NOT need to have an alternative paper-based system in place. However, some businesses are required to have the alternative paper-based system, including cinemas, gyms, cafes and restaurants. 
 
MOST IMPORTANTLY – Look after your mental wellbeing.
 
It’s important to recognize that it’s normal in situations of great uncertainty and chronic stress to feel ups and downs and feel like you’re depleted and exhausted.  It’s normal to feel anxious or stressed in times of difficulty. Don’t be afraid to seek support. For support with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can free call or text 1737 and speak to a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUDGET 14 MAY - FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES

The budget last Thursday brought a sigh of relief to some businesses and frustration to others. New support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis include: 

  • A targeted extension of the wage subsidy scheme. The extension is available for a further eight-week period (i.e. further to the 12-week period of the existing scheme) 10 June 2020 until 1 September 2020for those who have suffered a 50% reduction in turnover in the 30 days prior to application as compared to 2019. You must have had, or expect to have, a revenue loss of at least 50% for the 30 days before you apply, compared to the closest period last year. You’ll need to agree to certain obligations
  • Loan scheme for R & D programmes. A $150 million short-term temporary loan scheme will be launched to incentivise businesses to continue R & D programmes that may be at risk due to COVID-19. The loans will provide one-off finance and will be administered by Callaghan Innovation.
  • Further business support by way of a $216 million boost to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to assist exporting firms, and $10 million earmarked for small businesses to improve their e-commerce capability.

Read the full article by Chris Lynch from Lynch & Associates

CONTACT TRACING

Most business already operating in Level 2, already have some form of contact tracing, as all businesses, except retail, must record details of all people’s movement on their premises. They should also keep people 1 metre apart at all times, where practicable. Retail stores should still keep records of their employees and any visitors, such as maintenance workers or suppliers. They need to keep customers 2 metres apart at all times, where practicable. If you are not already using an app, there are several available including HereIam, Guest HQ, Tracing.co.nz or Forsite.

AUCKLAND COUNCIL RATES RELIEF

In the current period of uncertainty, they know many Aucklanders are facing financial hardship. Find out about financial assistance that is available to help ratepayers. Auckland Council will consult on next year’s rates and services from late May until mid-June.

MENTAL HEALTH

It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, worried or scared in the current situation. ​Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important, not only for yourself but those around you including family and work colleagues.

SMALL BUSINESS CASHFLOW SCHEME

More than 6,000 businesses have applied for a loan under the government’s small business cash flow loan scheme (SBCS), which is open until the 12 June. The scheme has been introduced to support businesses and organisations struggling because of loss of actual or predicted revenue as a result of COVID-19. They must have 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees. Eligible businesses and organisations are entitled to a one-off loan. The maximum amount loaned is $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee. 

Assistance with loan applications? – Small businesses applying for Covid 19 related assistance may not realise that the banks could require substantial legal documentation to support the loan or a lawyer to be involved. Parnell based MacDonald Lewis Law is there to help.

Tourism sector package.

As part of the budget Government also announced a wider $400 million package for the tourism sector. Tourism New Zealand has an important role to play in supporting New Zealand’s economic recovery by taking action to support the restart of the tourism sector and a business advisory service has been established. The service will support New Zealand tourism businesses through these tough times and provide a range of advice as communities get back up and running.

Who can you talk to?

There are some amazing resources out there with several leading businesses. In addition to the govt site covid19.govt.nz as above, as well as some of the resources at the bottom of the page, here are some others being developed by innovative kiwi business people. 

Parnell based The Icehouse, has continued to do an amazing series of webinars to help clarify and make sense of some of the most pressing topics that are affecting businesses and business owners. Free and exclusive, and curated by The Icehouse delivery team, you can binge-watch and play catch up by following the webinars right here on their dedicated webinar website page or via our Youtube channel.

Manaaki. Andy Hamilton, who recently departed his long -time role as head of Parnell based The Icehouse Group, has set up Manaaki – an “emergency business forum for Kiwi SMEs to get help from advisers and experts”. “Manaaki means to support, take care of, give hospitality to, protect, look out for. In all, more than 80 prominent NZ business people from a wide range of industries including retail, finance and insurance, and branding and marketing, have stood up to offer their expertise.
Enable me, a Parnell based business is offering a free webinar series: Financial Resilience Amid COVID-19. Join their free webinar series on how to survive, stabilise & optimise your finances amid Covid-19.
Another well known Parnell business Lynch and Associates has a range of helpful articles on anything from wage subsidies to your tax. Economic Development New Zealand are also offering free seminars on anything from looking after your team and the role of Councils in the recovery and the EMA, ATEED and the Regional Business Partner Network have partnered to bring you free content to help you combat the ongoing issues businesses are facing in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. They are running three 20-minute sessions a week on the topics that businesses are asking about.

You can also watch the IRD Business Transformation webinars to find out about what’s changing in April 2020 and how you may get some tax relief.

The Auckland Business Chamber are hosting a Facebook event on the 8th April to provide engaging analysis on the global economic landscape, and Michael Barnett will present the latest business confidence survey results. Tourism Industry Aotearoa has advice for operators and accommodation providers and the Restaurant Association has specific advice for the hospitality sector.

Government package for business$12.1 billion support package for New Zealanders and business (March 17, 2020) 

  • $500 million boost for health
  • $8.7 billion in support for businesses and jobs
  • $2.8 billion for income support and boosting consumer spending

Finance Minister Grant Robertson outlined a $12.1 billion package to support New Zealanders and their jobs from the global impact of COVID-19.
The $12.1 billion package includes:

    • Initial $500 million boost for health
    • $5.1 billion in wage subsidies for affected businesses in all sectors and regions, available from today
    • $126 million in COVID-19 leave and self-isolation support
    • $2.8 billion income support package for our most vulnerable, including a permanent $25 per week benefit increase and a doubling of the Winter Energy Payment for 2020
    • $100 million redeployment package
    • $2.8 billion in business tax changes to free up cashflow, including a provisional tax threshold lift, the reinstatement of building depreciation and writing off interest on the late payment of tax
    • $600 million initial aviation support package

This cash injection is on top of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme that was announced in January.

Wage subsidies
The wage subsidies will be available for businesses in all sectors and all regions that can show a 30 per cent decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue). If eligible, employers would be paid $585.80 per week for full time staff, and $350 for part time. Payments are capped at $150,000 per business. They will be paid in a lump sum. The support will be available for twelve weeks with applications open today. Businesses must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (eg. engaged with their bank) and signed a declaration form to that effect. Estimated total cost: $5.1 billion
COVID-19 leave and self-isolation support
The COVID-19 leave payment scheme will provide support (through employers/to sole traders and the self employed) for those people unable to work because they are in self-isolation, are sick with COVID-19 or caring for dependents who are in either of these situations. The payments will be equal to the rate of the wage subsidy scheme but available for a maximum of eight weeks. Employers will be expected to meet all of their sick leave and other employment expectations. Estimated total cost: $126 million
Income support package
This package includes:
· A $25 per week increase for all main benefits from April 1 2020. MSD estimates that this will increase the incomes of approximately 350,000 low income families. This will also help as more people who have previously been in work are likely to need income support in the coming months, and act as a stimulus.
· The Winter Energy Payment for 2020 will be doubled to $1400 for couples and $900 for single people. It is estimated that around 850,000 recipients will benefit from this change. Once we include the partners of recipients, more than one million people are expected to benefit.
· Removing the hours test from the In Work Tax Credit to assist those who may face variable hours.
Estimated total cost: $2.8 billion
Redeployment package
$100 million has been allocated to support worker redeployment. The Tairāwhiti region will be the first to receive assistance, with the package to be agreed by COVID-19 Cabinet Committee on Wednesday.
Fewer small businesses having to pay provisional tax
From April 1 2020 the threshold for provisional tax will lift from $2,500 to $5,000. This measure will reduce cashflow pressure and compliance costs for small taxpayers by allowing roughly 95,000 businesses to defer their tax payments. Estimated total cost: $4 million.
Reinstatement of depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings
A reintroduction of depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings will encourage business investment in the recovery phase and support productivity. It will support business confidence, continuity and recovery. Estimated total cost: $2.1 billion
Waiving interest on some late tax payments
Interest is usually payable by taxpayers when they pay their tax late. The Commissioner of Inland Revenue will be given a time-limited discretion to remit interest if a taxpayer’s ability to make a tax payment on time has been significantly adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This measure will provide targeted relief to directly affected taxpayers facing cashflow pressures and apply for all tax payments due on or after 14 February 2020.
Immediate deductions for low value assets
Immediate expensing allows businesses to fully deduct the cost of low-cost assets when they are purchased, with the threshold for the write-off currently at $500. We are putting in place a temporary increase in the threshold to $5,000 for one year, reverting to $1,000 in the longer term (still higher than the current $500 threshold), which will reduce compliance costs for businesses. It will also have the side-benefit of stimulating business purchases. Estimated total cost: $667 million.
Support for large or complex businesses
Some businesses may fall outside the scope of the proposed business and employee support package (including working capital support), such as large or complex businesses. Officials have been asked to develop options so the Government can support larger businesses that have been materially impacted by COVID-19, where other avenues for support are not available, and the businesses are commercially viable over the longer-term. Any support would seek to mitigate the economic impact as adjustment occurs.
Working capital support for small and medium sized businesses
Officials are meeting with banks to discuss the potential for future working capital support, including in the form of loan guarantees for businesses that face temporary credit constraints.
Aviation Sector
The COVID-19 Cabinet Committee will discuss a package of measures to support the aviation sector and the protection of supply chains. This does not include any Government support for Air New Zealand. The estimated cost of this package is $600 million.

COVID-19: Government Information for businesses

This page brings together government information relating to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), how it may affect your business and how you can stay up to date as new information becomes available. 

Continuity and contingency planning

Continuity and contingency planning is about being prepared for all types of disruptions, eg an earthquake, broken equipment or losing a supplier — and quickly getting back on your feet. 

Use this step-by-step guide to get your plan sorted. It’s vital to your business’s survival.

Other sources for up-to-date information on the COVID-19 coronavirus are:

  • New Zealand Government provides a summary of help, including possible financial assistance offered by Government agencies.
  • The Ministry of Health provides the latest health advice for the public. 
  • NZTE has specific advice for exporters along with teams based in China and other affected markets. NZTE can answer export and supply chain queries.
  • Worksafe offers advice on how to care for your staff and obligations under New Zealand health and safety legislation.
  • EMA outlines obligations for employers to manage the COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • Auckland Chamber provides business support and advocacy to members across Tāmaki Makaurau.
  • MBIE provides government sources of guidance and support to the public as part of the response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help you stay informed and help to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.
  • Tax issues, talk to the IRD at the earliest opportunity, advice is available to people affected by the downturn in business due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
  • If you have cash flow problems, contact your bank at the earliest opportunity. It’s better to front-foot these challenges. The major banks may announce further assistance packages in the weeks ahead, at the moment it is case by case.
  • If you have any queries or require advice, contact ATEED’s Business Support Helpdesk and they will point you in the right direction.
  • For wage subsidy & leave payments contact Work & Income or call the Government Helpline on 0800 779 997.