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COVID-19 Update

The following information and links will enable Mackenzie businesses to quickly navigate and reach necessary information in this rapidly changing environment. 

The South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce is liaising directly with the Ministry of Social Development (Work & Income) and other government agencies regarding the COVID-19 Government Business Support and related Packages. Click here to view our South Canterbury COVID-19 Business Assistance page.
Wendy Smith, South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce CE, brings you the latest information we have on COVID-19 for your business. We are your COVID-19 Response Team for Business Assistance in South Canterbury. 

Steps to protect New Zealander’s jobs

We have just been advised that The Government have taken further steps to clarify and update the Wage Subsidy – please see the release below. The S.C.Chamber have been fielding a huge amount of enquiries on these issues over the past few days and we have been providing direct feedback into Government on potential changes, which have now come through.

Given this has been a concern for many of you, we wanted to advise you before the weekend hits. I hope you can take some time out over the weekend to recharge.

Media release: Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson

COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown.
These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.
 The modifications focus on keeping businesses and workers connected during this unprecedented time. They apply from 4pm today (Friday 27th March), and include:
  • Businesses accessing the scheme must still undertake best endeavours to pay employees 80% of their pre-COVID income. Where that is not possible – in particular where a business has no activity whatsoever due to the shutdown and workers are not working any hours – they must pass on at least the whole value of the wage subsidy to each affected worker.
  • Businesses must undertake to keep employees in employment for the period of the subsidy.
  • We are folding the previous sick leave scheme into this scheme to prevent double-dipping. The original sick leave scheme was designed when few people were in self-isolation, and it is no longer fit for purpose. We are working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.
The Treasury now estimates the financial cost of the scheme will be between $8 billion and $12 billion depending on uptake by businesses. 
“This ensures businesses not able to operate do not need to lay off staff. Even if this requires businesses to operate with no activity, the subsidy allows them to keep their workers on the books, particularly during Alert Level 4.”
 The wage subsidy is a Government payment to help employers pay wages. It does not change any other employment law obligations, meaning employees must be paid appropriately under their employment agreements for the hours they do if they work during the lockdown.
 “We are running this scheme on a high-trust model in order to get money out the door and support the workers, families and businesses who are affected by COVID-19. We are also preparing an appropriate audit process that will act as a backstop for this high-trust model,” Grant Robertson said.
The wage subsidy is $585.80 a week for full-time workers (who worked 20 or more hours per week before COVID-19) and $350 a week for part-time workers (fewer than 20 hours). It will continue to be paid out in a lump sum covering the 12 weeks, meaning a $7,029.60 payment per full time worker. 
“People are working hard to respond and process applications as fast as they can under challenging conditions. Please be patient when applying, and please be kind to each other,” Grant Robertson said.
Expansion of the wage subsidy scheme comes on top of a range of support measures for Kiwis during this global pandemic, including:
  • The $500 million increase to public health funding for the immediate response.
  • A six-month deferred mortgage scheme for home-owners affected by the virus, so people don’t lose their homes due to COVID-19. 
  • The $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee, and business tax measures to support cashflow, and help businesses continue to operate.
  • A doubling of the Winter Energy Payment so older New Zealanders can stay warm during winter.
  • Main benefit increases, and 
  • Rent freezes and a ban on terminations of tenancies/evictions other than in exceptional circumstances. 

Covid-19 Advisory Funding

Funding is now available for qualifying businesses to access 1-1 support with professionals in the following areas:
  • HR
  • Health and Wellness
  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Finance and Cashflow Management
Businesses will need to contact the South Canterbury Chamber RBP Growth Advisors and be registered on the RBP Platform to access this support.

Free National and Local Business Mentors

Services are available to support businesses through this difficult period please contact one of our team for a referral.

Common questions on support for employers during COVID-19

This is a very useful guide answering questions re tax, multiple applications for the leave subsidy, partnerships, contractors and more. View here.

Video on filling in the wage subsidy and leave payment application - View here.

Large Organisations applications for the wage subsidy

Large organisations will struggle to enter all their employees onto the application form. Work and Income have now produced a large employer form – it is essentially an excel spreadsheet that you cut and paste into.
Click here for instructions on how to file a claim.

COVID-19 Update with partners CECC

– video recording from Wednesday 25th March
Recording of the Update Available
For the full session – click here
For the Q & A section - click here

Your Questions
We are working hard to get your business specific questions answered. Click here for information that covers the most common enquiries that came out of the Q & A session. 

IR Update re tax filing

If your business is unable to pay its taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19, we understand,  you don’t need to contact us right now.

Get in touch with us when you can, and we’ll write-off any penalties and interest.

It would help a lot if you continue to file however, as the information is used to make correct payments to people, and to help the Government continue to respond to what is happening in the economy.

Click here for the latest news coming out of Inland Revenue.

Temporary visas can be extended

The epidemic management notice means all temporary entry class visas can be extended for people who are currently in New Zealand. This includes:

  • temporary work visa holders 
  • student visa holders
  • visitor visa holders
  • interim visa holders, and
  • limited visa holders.

Check with Immigration NZ for details.

Working together

Here at the S.C.Chamber we are working closely with Aoraki Development, the Timaru District Economic Development Agency and Christchurch NZ, Christchurch’s Economic Development and Tourism Organisation to ensure we share information and resources and to ensure our community works through this crisis to achieve the best outcomes for everyone. 

Employment and redeployment options - if you have any available work in the Essential Business Services space please contact Aoraki Development directly.


Starting from next week we will be bringing you FREE Training workshops that you can join remotely. Details on how to sign up will be sent out next week.

Our first workshop is Critical HR during Covid-19
Topics include:

  • Impacts of workplace closure – Level 4
  • Workforce changes, restructuring and redundancy and associated implications
  • Leave and pay issues including wage and leave subsidy (how to apply and how to use)
  • Employers rights and obligations
  • Remote workplace implications
  • Well being of staff and effective leadership throughout
  • Practical HR support of specific issues

The Chamber is going virtual

Our virtual office is up and running, with all staff available via phone and email. You can contact us on: The South Canterbury Chamber COVID-19 Response Team
We have pulled together our own Response Team for all businesses across South Canterbury to assist you through these unprecedented times from HR queries to navigating the Government Support packages and general business support. Please call or email us on the above numbers.
The impact of COVID-19 on our way of life and our ability to conduct business across many of our industries could not have been predicted even just a few weeks ago; in much the same way that we cannot forecast what that environment will look like in one month or six months. But what we do know is that we’re all in this together and together we will make it through.

Chamber Events and Training
Click on the training or event for more information and to register.


1st April 9:30 p.m.
Critical HR during COVID19

30th April 9:30 a.m.
Growing Sales Pathways Part 1
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, 25 Canon Street, Timaru Central, Timaru, 7910

Date TBC: 4th November 10:00 a.m.
Innovate Business Conference
Landing Services Conference Centre, 2 George Street, Timaru Central, 7910

Raewyn Bell

Business Advisor
25 Canon St I PO Box 919 I Timaru I New Zealand
ddi: +64 3 555 5092 | p: +64 3 687 2733 | m: +64 27 500 4222
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South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce · PO Box 919 · Timaru, 7940 · New Zealand 

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South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce · PO Box 919 · Timaru, 7940 · New Zealand