Christchurch Earthquake Employment Law 22 Mar 2011

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 organization 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 full time 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.