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Employment Relations Authority (ERA) and the wage subsidy

Valerie Raggett, Catherine Talbot, Francelle Burns, Nicholas Swan, Helena Nathan and Michelle Hood v Eastern Bays Hospice Trust t/a Dove Hospice [2020] NZERA 266 is the first determination issued by the Employment Relations Authority in relation to the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.

Summary of Facts

The Employer in this case applied for and received the Government Wage Subsidy (GWS) as New Zealand went into COVID-19 level 4 lockdown (Lockdown). When making the application for the GWS, the Employer signed the Wage Subsidy Declaration, which stated “You agree you will, using best endeavours, retain the employees named in your application in employment on at least 80 percent of their regular income for the period of the subsidy.”

In this case, the Employer operated in the retail industry and as a result of lockdown, the stores were closed and Employees were therefore, not required to work. The Employees received a memo from their Employer on 25 March 2020, which stated that the Employer would continue to pay their normal salary and wages until the end of the week and then the Employees would be paid at 80% of their salary until the end of the Lockdown and the situation was reviewed.

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