Covid - 19 Update Employment law advice.


Covid - 19 Update.


If you have a worker returning from Overseas or been in contact with an infected person.


  • The Worker should not go to work.
  • Worker must notify the employer that they have been advised to self-isolate under public health guidance for COVID-19 and why eg, where they have travelled to or that they have had close contact with someone who has been effected.
  • Employer should instruct the worker to stay away from the workplace.
  • If an employer lets a worker come to the workplace, they will likely be in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).
  • If the employer can accommodate a person from working at home and they do, the worker will be paid normally.
  • If the Worker cannot work from home, it will be leave without pay unless:
  1. You and the worker agree to paid special leave.
  2. The worker has sick leave entitlements.
  3. The worker and the employer agrees to use annual leave entitlements.
  4. Record any agreements made with employees in writing.


What about payment of wages in certain circumstances.. 

Each case requires its own consideration, first review the employment agreement is important to review this first. 

  1. If the employee is compulsorily quarantined? In these circumstances, the employee is not ready, willing and able to work and will generally not be entitled to be paid. The employer and employee may agree to the employee using other entitlements, such as sick leave or annual holidays.
  2. Can an employee refuse to attend work? Under the Heath and Safety rules an employees can refuse to work if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the work, they are required to perform, is likely to cause them serious harm.  An employee may also have a wider right to refuse to attend work where the employee has a reasonable fear of contracting coronavirus in the workplace. This would therefore likely be unpaid unless otherwise agreed.
  3. What if the business is quiet because of a virus outbreak and I the business needs temporarily reduce hours for employees? Review your employment agreements for clauses that deal with such a situation, such as an “Temporary closure” clause and consider what action you might take. Communicate with your staff and consult with them in good faith to discuss any potential variations and act in accordance with the terms of their employment agreements.
  4. Can an employer require an employee to stay away?....In general terms, if an employee is ready, willing and able to work, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with work.  However, an employer may want an employee who is suspected of having come into contact with coronavirus to stay away from work, so as not to pose a risk to others in the workplace and may potentially be obliged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) to direct that the employee not come in to work.  If there are not obligated to self isolate from travel of other contact risk, the employee if sent home will need to be paid.



  1. Record any agreements made with employees in writing.

Who are we...

With more than 40 years combined experience providing employment advice, I R Thompson Associates are the experts when it comes to advising employees and employers on employment law in Christchurch. IR Employment Law give advice on unfair dismissals and other complex issues.

We provide small and medium sized businesses and employees with a professional service in the field of employment law and general human resources.

Our team of professional advisors have many years' experience in providing employment law advice, representing employers and employees in mediation, the Employment Relations Authority, and Employment Court.

In relation to fees we can discuss all option available to you.  We have finance options available and provide legal aid.  We do understand the personal toll that having a bad relationship with your employer or employee can have on you and we are prepared to provide whatever assistance we can to ease that burden.

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You do need to ask yourself the important question, will my lawyer have the complete knowledge and understanding that you need. We will understand and as a family business you can count on us.

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We look forward to helping you in the future.

Robert Thompson (Owner)

IR Employment Law.