Updated 31 August 2021

It’s a positive sign and undoubtedly a relief for many when COVID-19 Alert Levels decrease from Level 4 to Level 3. For many business owners, the drop to a less extreme (but still strict) lockdown, provides an opportunity to spring back into action – but only if you can do so safely.

There’s a good reason why this lower alert level still comes with more restrictions than freedoms: while the Delta variant remains a risk to the community, the limitation of contact between people is an important protective mechanism for our communities.

One of the first questions that many business owners will need to answer before the transition to Alert Level 3 is whether it’s safe for some or all of their staff to return to the workplace? Remembering that at Level 3, all workers who can work from home should, and only essential businesses or businesses that don’t require close physical contact can open.

If your employees can’t work from home, but you can maintain physical distancing and strict hygiene in the work environment, and you have your contactless service options and contact tracing record-keeping systems in place, you may choose to operate during Alert Level 3.

In this quick guide we provide some advice and a free checklist to help you manage a safe return to work for your employees under the Level 3 restrictions. And remember, if you need to be at your workplace to set up the necessary systems to keep everybody safe, you’re permitted to enter your business premises for this reason.

COVID-19 Level 3 return-to-work checklist

Before allowing workers to return to work and commence operations, there are several steps every business owner should take, including:

  • Assess the current state of all or any part of your business that has been locked down and not operational, for safety.
  • Develop new business processes or modify existing ones, to enable safer operations following Government requirements.
  • Communicate, consult, and explain new work processes so that employees are involved and able to contribute to and support the changes.
  • Create a means to communicate, remind and reinforce your new work processes, so that they there is a strong uptake across your organisation.
  • Regularly assess and improve those measures where necessary.

Our free COVID-19 return to work tool will help you to create a safe working environment for employees with a simple checklist.  We recognise that every business is different, and yours might have unique processes and operations that this tool doesn’t cover. If you have any doubt about how to apply the Level 3 Government guidelines to your specific workplace practices, it’s a good idea to seek specific advice. HR Assured clients can contact the Telephone Advisory Service for support on this matter at any time.

Business travel across Alert Level 4 and 3 borders

Only essential workers who must travel for work are permitted to travel between Alert Level 4 and Alert Level 3 locations. These employees will need Business Travel Documents from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Learn more about the rules on travel limitations and how to apply for Business Travel Documents here. If your workers need these, you should apply as soon as possible.

Looking for more expert advice on managing your people and your workplace safely through a Level 3 lockdown? You can find over 25 practical tips from our advisory team in this article.

For up to date Government guidelines on doing business at Alert Level 3, head to the COVID-19 website.

If you have any questions about managing your workforce under Level 3 restrictions, feel free to contact the team at HR Assured.

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

Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.

Vaughan Granier is the National Workplace Relations Manager for HR Assured NZ. He has over 24 years of experience in international human resources, health and safety, and workplace relations management. With over 10 years working in New Zealand and Australian companies, he provides in-depth support to leadership teams across HR, Health and Safety, and employee management.