Christchurch’s February earthquake impacted many commercially leased buildings. Some were destroyed, while others were damaged or left inaccessible. Affected landlords and tenants now face the following issues, amongst others – is rent still payable and how much, and what obligation does the landlord have to repair the premises?

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If your business suffered damage in the Christchurch earthquakes, negotiating a successful insurance claim will be vital for the viability of your business going forward. We have a free checklist of basic information you need to collect to begin making an insurance claim.

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In this, our fourth and final blog on employment issues, we look at legal issues for employees resulting from the Christchurch earthquake.  This includes issues such as redundancy, and whether or not you are entitle to financial assistance.

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On 28 March 2011 the Government announced measures to alleviate the significant financial burden on businesses in Christchurch caused by the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes.

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This is our third blog on employment law issues for those affected by the Christchurch Earthquake.  We answer the question:

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This blog continues with our series of blogs on the legal consequences of the Christchurch Earthquake by our qualified New Zealand Lawyers.

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For Employers

My business couldn’t operate for a period of time after the earthquake, am I entitled to any financial assistance towards paying my employees?

Yes possibly.

There are two possible avenues:

(a)     If you held business interruption insurance prior to the earthquake, you may be entitled to financial assistance from your insurer under that policy.

You should contact your insurer as soon as possible to discuss and check the terms of your policy to confirm what, if any, assistance you may be entitled to and in what circumstances (don’t just take your insurer’s word for it!)

If an insurance payment is likely to take some time, you may also be entitled to receive the Government Earthquake Support Subsidy (see below) in the meantime but will have to repay it when the insurance payment is received.  You could also ask your insurer to make an advance payment under your policy.

(b)    You may be entitled to receive the Government Earthquake Support Subsidy

This is available to employers, the self employed or business owners who draw a wage but only in the following circumstances:

i. You are unable to operate due to damage, a police cordon, a key service is not available, or you are a small business who can operate but you are undergoing significant loss of business; and

ii. You are New Zealand owned; and

iii. You are based in the Christchurch City Council region.

You cannot receive the subsidy if you can continue to operate and/or meet your obligations to pay your employees, are a government or government-related organisation or if you have staff who have been injured or bereaved and who are receiving weekly compensation from ACC (but you are only limited n relation to that staff member(s).

The subsidy is paid:

for up to six weeks from 22 February 2011 (5 April 2011) at a rate of $500 per week per fulltime employee (over 20 hours per week) or a rate of $300 per week per employee for part time employees (anyone working 20 hours a week or less) the subsidy is not subject to GST but is subject to PAYE.

You can apply on line with Work and Income New Zealand or contact the Earthquake Government Helpline.

Our next blog on Christchurch Earthquake issues discusses how to deal with legal fees.

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The main points are:

  • You should make another claim after the 22 February 2011 earthquake with the EQC;
  • You have three months to make the claim, but make it as soon as possible;
  • You can lodge a claim by phone 0800 326 423 or by going to their website:
  • Not all your land or buildings are covered

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Early in February we started a series of blogs on legal issues that arise from the Christchurch earthquakes.  At that time we did not know that another one was upon us.  With the destruction caused by the second earthquake a plethora of issues are bound to affect a multitude of individuals and businesses.In this podcast we discuss business interruption insurance.

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