Carmel Sepuloni urges people financially hit by stay-at-home orders to get in touch with WINZ

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni is urging people affected by Ministry of Health orders to self-isolate to check out what they're entitled to in financial compensation.

In the past week there have been cases of people potentially exposed to the virus still going to work, rather than staying at home - possibly because of financial pressures to keep working.

"If you are required to self-isolate and can't work from home, I encourage you to check the Work andome website and talk to your employer about the government support you may be eligible for," said Sepuloni.

"The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result. This is a one-off payment of $350."

Businesses can apply for the payment if employees are:

  • staying home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result, in accordance with public health guidance, or are;
  • the parent or caregiver of a dependant who is staying home while waiting for their COVID-19 test results, in accordance with public health guidance, and the dependant needs support to do so safely, or are;
  • a household member or secondary contact (as described in public health guidance) of someone who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19, and the worker has been advised to stay at home while waiting for the close contact's test results.

"Also available is the Leave Support Scheme which is for those who meet certain criteria and have to self-isolate, cannot go to work, and cannot work from home," said Sepuloni.

"The Leave Support Scheme is paid as a lump sum and covers two weeks for each eligible employee. The Leave Support Scheme is paid at a flat rate of $1176.60 for people who were working 20 hours or more per week (full-time rate) and $700 for people who were working less than 20 hours per week (part-time rate).

"The employer must pay their employees any amount required by the employment agreement and employment legislation. The Leave Support Scheme requirements do not remove or reduce this obligation."

A dedicated WINZ phone line has been set up for people affected by the south Auckland outbreak. The number isn't public so it doesn't get swamped, but is being given to affected people. Others can call 0800 559 009. 

"We all have a role to play in stamping out COVID from our communities. That is why the Ministry of Social Development will continue to work closely with the Papatoetoe High School community, and reach out to employers in the Auckland area to make sure they’re all aware of the support that is available, and how to access it."

It's been translated into 20 different languages, she said.