New leave scheme for essential workers

Photo: File.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have updated the public on the government's response to the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand this afternoon.

Jacinda has announced a new leave scheme for essential workers, meaning those vulnerable to COVID-19 can take leave and be paid the same as the wage subsidy.

The scheme is set to start on Monday.

“There are people working in essential services who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, such as those who are over 70 or with compromised immunity.”

Jacinda says the scheme will ensure workers have the ability to take leave and won't feel pressured to go to work.

“This also applies to those on essential service front lines that contract the virus and need to take leave as a result.”

The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Social Development.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says “the scheme is focussed on three groups of essential businesses workers, and employers will be eligible to apply for those employees under the scheme.”

Officials are preparing guidance to support employers and employees to discuss what it means to be at higher risk. 

Jacinda also says a government WhatsApp group was in the process of being set-up for New Zealanders.

It will provide updates, news, financial and mental health support and case information.

There are 89 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. This is made up of 76 new confirmed cases and 13 probable cases.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there are 92 recovered cases.

"Thirteen people are in hospital. Two are in ICU and all are in a stable condition."

There are no additional deaths.

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