Parliament to rush through Covid-19 business support laws today

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Feb 2021, 11:49AM
Photo / Michael Craig
Photo / Michael Craig

Parliament to rush through Covid-19 business support laws today

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Feb 2021, 11:49AM

Parliament will this afternoon rush through legislation giving effect to the Government's Covid-19 Resurgence business support payment scheme.

But, as the recent changes to the alert levels are only in place for 72 hours, businesses won't receive any cash from the Government this time around.

That's because the support schemes only kick in after a region – or the entire country – is at level 2, 3 or 4 for at least seven days.

In December, Finance Minister Grant Robertson unveiled the Government's plans for business if the alert levels were increased for a week or more.

Those measures need to be passed by Parliament before they become law – something the Government will push through this afternoon.

At level 2, eligible businesses would be entitled to the resurgence support payment – a one-off cash injection to help businesses impacted by the lockdown.

The payment consists of a $1500 lump sum, plus $400 per employee, up to a total of 50 full-time equivalent staff.

For example, a business with 10 fulltime staff would get $5500 – $4000 for its 10 staff plus the $1500 lump sum.

To get the payment, businesses would need to have had a 30 per cent or more drop in revenue over a seven-day period.

Businesses which need additional support can apply for the small business cashflow and the business finance guarantee schemes.

At level 3, the wage subsidy scheme is back but, again, only if the lockdown is seven or more days.

That means businesses will get $585.80 per week per full-time employees and $350 per part-time employees.

But, as it was in previous lockdowns, the payment is only available if businesses retain their staff.

And to get the payment, businesses must have suffered a 40 per cent drop in revenue due to the lockdown.

But Robertson has made a slight change since December. He has reduced the time over which a revenue drop is assessed from 14 days to seven.

"We acknowledge the concerns of the business community about alert level rises and have made this change as we want to get money out the door quickly to affected businesses."

Also in this afternoon's legislation will be the short-term absence payment.

This will be available for any employers to support those who cannot work from home during the lockdown.

This is a one-off, flat-rate payment of $350 a week and supplements the leave support scheme.

It's also available to self-employed workers, as well as parents and caregivers who are required to stay home and await a Covid-19 test result.