The August Level 4 lockdown has triggered several financial support options for businesses. This guide summarises the available payments for employers and how to apply.

If you’re unsure about which financial payment or support scheme may apply to your business, you can use this COVID-19 financial support tool to check your eligibility. If you’re an HR Assured client, you can also contact the Telephone Advisory Service for support.

Updated on 20 August 2021

The financial support and guidance that is covered in this article includes:

  1. Resurgence Support Payment;
  2. Wage Subsidy;
  3. Leave Support Scheme;
  4. Short-term Absence Payment;
  5. Employer obligations when applying for Wage Subsidy, Short Term Absence Payment or Leave Support Scheme;
  6. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme.

1. Resurgence Support Payment (RSP)

When can you access this support?

The RSP is activated each time COVID-19 alert levels rise to alert Levels 2, 3 and 4.

What support is provided?

The RSP is a one-off support payment dependent on the number of full-time workers you employ and your revenue.

This payment is worth up to $1,500, plus an additional $400 per full-time equivalent employee, up to a maximum of 50 employees. It’s available alongside the other support measures outlined in this guide and does not have to be applied directly against wages. 

The size of the payment you receive will depend on the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees you have and your level of revenue. If you are a low revenue business, your payment will cap at four times the amount your revenue has dropped over the 7-day period.

Employees who work up to 20 hours a week are considered part-time (0.6 FTE) and employees who work 20 hours or more per week are considered full-time (1.0 FTE).

The maximum payment is $21,500 for a business and $1,900 for a sole trader.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the RSP you must meet the below criteria:

  • your business has experienced a 30 per cent decrease or a 30 per cent decline in capital-raising ability over seven days due to the increased COVID-19 alert level. This decrease in revenue or capital-raising ability is compared with a typical 7-day revenue period in the six weeks before the increase in alert levels;
  • your organisation or business has been operating for at least six months;
  • your business or organisation is considered viable;
  • your business is physically present in New Zealand; and
  • your passive income is not included in the measurement for the revenue test.

Charities and not-for-profit organisations may be entitled to the RSP provided they meet the eligibility requirements. State sector organisations are excluded and must apply to the Minister of Finance for an exemption to apply for this scheme.

If your business has common ownership, you must all apply as one group and the 30 per cent revenue test will apply across your group. If your group meets the test, the group will receive a single payment for up to 50 full-time employees.

Visit the IRD website here to check your eligibility criteria.

How to apply?

Applications for the RSP will be open on the Inland Revenue (the IRD) website from 8am on Monday 24 August 2021. Instructions for applying for the RSP are here on the IRD website.

2. Wage Subsidy August 2021

When can you access this support?

The Wage Subsidy is usually available at Alert Levels 3 and 4.

What support is provided?

The Wage Subsidy scheme has been reactivated following the recent lockdown that began on Wednesday 18 August 2021. If your business is experiencing a loss in revenue because of the COVID-19 restrictions, you may be able to access this relief to help pay your employees’ wages.

The subsidy will be paid as a two-week lump sum at the below increased weekly rates: 

  • $600.00 for each full-time employee (an employee who usually works 20 hours a week or more); and
  • $359 for each part-time employee (an employee who usually works less than 20 hours a week).

An important point to note here is that you can’t receive the Wage Subsidy, the Leave Support Scheme or Short-Term Absence Payment at the same time for an employee. 

Who is eligible?

To be eligible, your business needs to show a 40 per cent decline in revenue over a consecutive 14-day period between 17 August and 30 August 2021, compared to a typical 14-day period six weeks immediately before the move to Alert Level 4 on Tuesday 17 August 2021.

If you have highly seasonable revenue, you may be able to apply for this Wage Subsidy and compare your decline in revenue with the same 14-day period in 2020 or 2019. The wage subsidy declaration outlines the complete eligibility criteria here.

You must also:

  • be an eligible employer;
  • employ workers who legally work in New Zealand;
  • retain the employees who you apply for the wage subsidy for;
  • show you have taken steps to mitigate the financial impact.

How to apply?

Eligible employers may apply for the wage subsidy on the Work and Income website from 9 am, Friday, 20 August 2021 onwards. Payments are processed three days after application. 

3. Leave Support Scheme

When can you access this support?

All Alert Levels.

What support is provided?

The Leave Support Scheme offers relief to pay workers who are in self-isolation because they have COVID-19, or because a health official has ordered them to self-isolate and they aren’t able to work from home.

This support comes as a lump sum for a two-week period and can be re-applied for if required. The current rates for the leave support scheme are:

  • $585.80 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week
  • $350 a week for part-time workers who were working less than 20 hours a week.

Who is eligible?

Below is the list of eligibility criteria you must meet to apply for the Leave Support Scheme:

  • you must be an eligible employer, and your business must be in New Zealand;
  • your employees must be legally working in New Zealand;
  • your employee is aware of and has agreed to the application for this payment on their behalf; and
  • your employee must meet at least one of the following health criteria:
    • They are sick with COVID-19 and in self-isolation.
    • They are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and must self-isolate.
    • They are a parent or caregiver of someone in self-isolation under public health orders and must isolate themselves while supporting the dependant person.
    • They are considered high-risk if they contract COVID-19 and a doctor has told them to self-isolate while there are activity cases in the community.
    • They live with others who are considered “high-risk” and need to self-isolate to reduce the risk of transmission in the household as ordered by a public health official.

 How to apply?

You can apply for a full-time or part-time leave support package for an eligible employee from the online form on the Work and Income website.

If you’ve already applied for this payment before, there’s an option to re-apply here. You can re-apply in the second week of the payment period.

Rate calculations for the Leave Support Scheme

If your employee works variable hours, you can work out what rate to apply for (full-time or part-time) by using the average hours worked each week over the last 12 months. If your employee has been working with you for less than 12 months, you can use the average hours worked over an eight-week period.

You can apply for the full-time rate if your employee works a weekly average of 20 hours or more. Otherwise, you can apply for the part-time rate if your employee works an average of fewer than 20 hours a week. Learn more about the Leave Support Scheme here.

4. Short-term absence payments

When can you access this support?

All alert levels.

What support is provided?

If you need financial aid to pay workers waiting for COVID-19 test results at home, you can apply for a $350 payment per worker to cover their short-term absence.

The payment is available to both employers and people who are self-employed. It can be applied once per worker in any 30-day period – unless a doctor or public health official orders another test for the same self-employed person or employee in the same 30-day period.

Who is eligible?

You can apply for this payment for a worker if:

  • working from home isn’t an option; and
  • they’re unable to come to work because of public health guidelines and self-isolation requirements.

How to apply?

You can apply for this payment from the online form on the Work and Income website.

Learn more about the Short-term Absence Payment and processing times here.

5. Employer obligations when applying for Wage Subsidy, Short Term Absence Payment or Leave Support Scheme

Employee consent

When applying for the Wage Subsidy, Short Term Absence Payment or Leave Support Scheme, you must declare that you have discussed and obtained consent from each eligible employee to share their information with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

For example, the declaration requires you, as the employer, to declare that:

  1. your employee consents to you sharing their personal information with MSD to make decisions about the application and to MSD obtaining relevant information from other agencies for the application; and
  2. your employee understands that MSD might share their information with other agencies.

If you need advice around this consent process for your support scheme applications, contact HR Assured for a complimentary call on the matter – we’re here to help.

Health and Safety

It’s important to remember that the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 don’t exempt employers from complying with their health and safety obligations. In the case of changing alert levels while there are active cases in the community, this includes, so far as is practicable, maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for co-workers, clients, customers, and suppliers. Some steps you may want to implement to meet your workplace safety obligations include physical distancing, strict and thorough hygiene practices, remote and contactless services, and PPE as a minimum.

If you’re unsure which contact category an employee falls into (and whether isolation is required), I recommend that you proactively contact the Ministry of Health helplines for clarity, and consider your health and safety responsibilities in deciding how to address the issue.

6. Small Business Cashflow (Loan) Scheme (SBCS)

When can you access this support?

All alert levels.

What support is provided?

If your business has 50 full-time employees or less, you may be eligible for this one-off loan designed to support small to medium businesses affected by COVID-19.

The maximum amount you can borrow is $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee.

You will have five years to pay off the loan. No interest will be charged if you repay this loan within two years. After two years, the annual interest rate will be three per cent.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible for this relief if your business has:

  • 50 or fewer full-time employees;
  • a plan to remain viable;
  • been in operation for more than six months; and
  • experienced a 30 per cent decrease in revenue over any 14-day period in the last six months, compared with the same 14-day period a year ago.

How to apply?

Applications for the SBCS are open until December 2023. You can apply for this loan through the IRD website. Learn more about the SBCS here.


We know that keeping up with changing advice around alert level restrictions is time-consuming and complex. If you need advice on applying for financial support for your business and employees, the workplace experts at HR Assured can help you.

For HR Assured clients, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.