ZB

Ministry of Education staff working from home after quake risk found in building

Author
Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 May 2022, 1:56pm
Photo / File
Photo / File

Ministry of Education staff working from home after quake risk found in building

Author
Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 May 2022, 1:56pm

More than 1000 Ministry of Education staff will be working from home until at least September after an engineering assessment found an earthquake risk in the building it occupies.

Mātauranga House on Wellington's Bowen St which was previously strengthened above 90 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS).

However, Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said it has now been rated by engineers as 25 per cent NBS due to the building's concrete floors.

Other aspects of the building continued to rate well, Holsted said.

"Alongside the engineers report and following a health and safety assessment, we have decided to act and our staff in Mātauranga House have been asked to work from home.

"Our immediate focus is on supporting our staff to transition to remote working and providing them with the resources they need to continue to deliver services to the education sector."

The Ministry has given staff until the end of the day on Monday May 30 to make the transition to working from home.

It's expected 1056 staff will work remotely until September while a plan is put together for longer-term working arrangements.

"We will keep our staff updated and connected throughout the process as we develop our
We know this will be challenging for some and thank all our staff for their resilience to date and for supporting us through this transition."

The Ministry is actively considering whether staff will be compensated for the extra costs incurred from working from home.

The building's earthquake rating has dropped after it was assessed against new guidelines issued after the Canterbury and Kaikōura earthquakes.

It's the latest office block in the capital to be affected by a lower-than-expected seismic rating following new engineering assessments.

The award-winning Meridian building on Wellington's waterfront has been deemed potentially earthquake-prone.

About 180 Meridian Energy staff have been working as a precaution while alternate office space is found.

NZME staff in Wellington were also sent home after the building they work out of was found to have a lower-than-expected earthquake rating.

About 1000 Inland Revenue staff found themselves in the same position last year when an earthquake risk was discovered at Asteron House. They have since been temporarily relocated across several buildings in the city while remediation is undertaken.