Covid-19 Restriction Removed
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From 15 August 2023, there is no legal requirement for people to isolate when they test positive for Covid-19. This decision does not mean Covid-19 has disappeared. As Covid-19 remains active in the community still, employers and employees need to work together to keep each other safe and protect public health.
What does this mean?
The end of the last remaining Covid restriction means that if your employees test positive, there is no longer the requirement to stay at home. Although you can’t direct people not to come in, you should support employees to isolate in line with health guidance. Having a worker come to work while sick could put the health of themselves and others at risk, and result in further disruption.
You should encourage your employees to advise if they test positive for Covid-19 and to be considerate and isolated during the period they think they could be infectious. Some employees may be able to work from home while isolated if they do not feel unwell.
Taking Sick leave
Note: Eligibility for the Leave Support Scheme ended on 15 August. You can’t apply for anyone who started self-isolation after 13 August.
Employees who are sick with Covid-19 can use their sick leave while they isolate. If they don’t have any sick leave left, or are not yet entitled to sick leave, you could:
- Allow them to take sick leave in advance
- Provide paid special leave
- Agree for them to take other leave such as annual leave or unpaid leave
You may ask an employee for proof of sickness. Anyone who reports a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) result or has had a positive PCR test, will receive a confirmation text message from Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand.
With this change announced, employers may make or change workplace policies regarding Covid-19. When making or changing any policy, you as an employer are recommended to consult with employees and unions.
If employees are concerned that being in the workplace with someone who tested positive with Covid-19 may harm them, they can talk to their employer, health and safety representative, or union representative.
It is best practice to advise your employees of this change and what it means for your workplace. Although they are no longer required to isolate for seven days if they test positive for the virus, it is important to remind your employees to be considerate and apply common sense during this period to keep others safe and ensure business continuity.
Supporting your employees
For most workplaces, Covid-19 is not a risk arising from their work that needs to be managed from a health and safety perspective. It is now like other community-based infectious illnesses that can impact workers and their work. However, it is still recommended to have specific policies, processes, measures and support in place to manage the risk and ensure your people’s wellbeing.
Resources on Covid-19 guidelines:
Keep in mind that Covid-19 is only one factor that affects our workplace wellbeing. It is important for us, HR professionals, to maintain and promote our people’s wellbeing at all times:
- Ensure proactive and transparent communication throughout the teams
- Maintain a positive workplace culture with solid reporting mechanism in place
- Complete a risk assessment together with your workers
- Provide robust support systems and training, e.g., Health and Safety Committee, EAP, wellbeing programme, etc.
- Have substantial policies around Health, Safety, and Wellbeing in place, including Leaves Policy
- Support flexible work in a way that works for your business, your teams and your employees.
HRNZ’s The Basics Guide Suite: