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The Ministry of Social Development is offering financial support to New Zealand workers affected by COVID-19 through their Work and Income service. The following information provides a summary of the types of support available for individuals - including employees, sole traders and the self-employed - with links to more information including online application forms where applicable (*current up to 12pm Thursday 2 April 2020).  


The Work and Income Wage Subsidy makes available $585.80 per week for a full time worker with 20+ hours per week, or, $350 for part-timers with less than 20 hours work per week, for 12 weeks  total, where the employer has suffered a 30% reduction in revenue compared to prior periods. This subsidy can be accessed by employers on an employees behalf, or accessed directly by sole traders and self-employed contractors. 

The employer declaration made on application requires the employer to use best endeavours to continue employing the relevant employees with at least 80% of salary paid, so individual employees should receive the subsidy plus the employer's top-up to match 80% of their regular income. Contractors and self-employed are also able to claim this support – as a minimum, you must have an IRD number before you can apply. Work and Income aim to pay the Wage Subsidy in a lump sum, within 5 working days (though this is challenged by the current environment so they are now saying 'as soon as possible'). 

If you are an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy or leave payment.

To qualify:

  • your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand, with a business IRD number for paying tax and GST (if applicable).

  • a sole trader, operating in New Zealand, with a personal IRD number for paying income tax and GST in New Zealand, and/or government licences or permits for your business needs, and/or qualifications or registrations for your trade or profession.

  • your employees must be legally working in New Zealand

  • the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19

  • your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19

  • you must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.


  • Work and Income are operating a high trust model at pace. The person’s declaration is sufficient for eligibility (please read the declaration criteria carefully). They will be verified by IRD as having a legitimate IRD number and having only applied once. MSD will then approve payment. The audit system will be verifying eligibility ‘after the fact’ (at this stage), so the certification process is not necessary straightaway.

  • The wage subsidy scheme is intended to be available for all businesses, including the self-employed, sole-traders and contractors.

  • If making the application as a company the business needs to be registered in New Zealand – this means either a business IRD, GST registration, companies office registration or NZBN.

  • Self-employed, sole-traders and contractors can use their personal IRD number OR type in ‘Sole Trader’ in the ‘NBN number’ field of the application form.

  • Creative sector workers who can demonstrate either a 30%+ decline due to COVID-19 in their average monthly revenue across the last 12 months, or can provide proof of cancellations of work due to COVID-19 amounting to a 30%+ decline in revenue, will be eligible to access the Wage Subsidy.

  • Self-employed creative sector workers whose primary source of income is from their creative endeavours, and who otherwise qualify for the Wage Subsidy, will be eligible as ‘working 20 hours or more per week’.

  • Most weekly benefits have a 'stand-down' period of time where you can’t get any money from Work and Income (usually 1 or 2 weeks after an application is approved.) The Government has decided to remove stand-downs as part of its response to COVID-19.

  • Take care to ensure the information you provide matches that held by IRD, any discrepancies may hold up your application as information needs to be verified.


If you don't have any staff or people working for you, and you operate as a self-employed sole-trader or contractor you can apply via the link below. Before you begin make sure you have your:

  • IRD number

  • IRD customer name

  • business name

  • contact details

  • bank account

  • Remember - Self-employed, sole-traders and contractors can use their personal IRD number OR type in ‘Sole Trader’ in the ‘NBN number’ field of the application form.

Apply for the Self-Employed Wage Subsidy here.

View the Wage Subsidy Declaration Form here. 


In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on New Zealand a Leave Support package was available to help those who were required to self-isolate for health reasons or be quarantined due to risk. The package made available was as follows: $585.80 per week ($350 for part-timers with less than 20 hours work per week) for up to 8 weeks for employees self-isolating.  Payment flows in full to the employee (no PAYE) via the employer. Contractors and self-employed are also able to claim this support.  Paid in two weekly lump sums, within 5 working days, repeat applications available.

From 3 pm on 27 March 2020, the COVID-19 Leave Payment is no longer available for employers. Applications already submitted will continue to be processed and paid. The Government is working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

Work & income CHANGES

Starting 1 April 2020 Work and Income have introduced a range of additional support measures, including:

More information on Work & Income assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.


Not working, or being unemployed, can be a challenging adjustment for many people to make. We acknowledge the current Alert Level 4 lockdown has impacted much of the country, yet each individual will have their unique situation and response to these events.


We do recommend you contact any relevant services to gain the support you may need to manage your health, living environment, finance and wellbeing at this time. We have curated a list of resources available to support you here, and don't be afraid to contact us if you need help with something that you can't find on our website.   


Work and Income offer a support across a number of services, follow these links below to find more information:

(* There may be other services or changes that we've missed updates on in this rapidly moving environment. If so feel free to contact us to update this information.) 

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