COVID-19 Government announces essential workers leave scheme

On 2 April, the government announced an essential workers leave scheme. Broadly, this scheme expands the wage subsidy to cover some essential workers who are currently on leave due to public health guidance, but whose employers may not meet the criteria for the broader wage subsidy (for example, supermarket workers).

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Until now, there have been concerns essential workers who are following public health guidance are being forced to take leave, either paid or unpaid. By expanding the wage subsidy, the government is ensuring people and businesses can prioritise health during this time.

The essential workers leave scheme is designed to cover essential workers who are on leave because:

  1. They are following public health guidance to self-isolate because either they, a person they have come into contact with, or a dependent has contracted COVID-19
  2. They are following public health guidance to self-isolate because they fall into higher risk categories.
  3. They are following public health guidance to self-isolate because a member of their household falls into higher risk categories.

While higher risk categories are yet to be defined, we expect this would broadly include over 70s and those with underlying health conditions.

The payments will be four-weekly with the ability to reapply at the end of the four-week period. Businesses will also be able to apply on behalf of additional employees as circumstances demand.

Employers should pay their employees at either:

  • Their usual weekly income, where this is less than the subsidy; or
  • A minimum of the full leave rate, if the workers’ usual income is more than the subsidy, and also to make best endeavours to pay at least 80 percent of the workers’ usual income.

The scheme will be open from midday on 6 April. The government will review the scheme after eight weeks.

If you have any queries, please contact your usual advisor. Please note, the information contained in this article is correct at the time of publication, but under ever evolving conditions, information may change.

DISCLAIMER: Our team is dedicated to helping you continue with business as usual, as much as you can. Information on government help is changing constantly and within hours of articles being added, the specifics may be out of date or only partially accurate. While we endeavour to keep this website accurate and current, our top priority is providing our clients with dedicated and relevant personal advice. If you need specific and up-to-date information, please seek help from your usual advisor directly.

No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

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