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wage subsidy

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy + leave payment

The Government has put together a COVID19 Wage Subsidy for employers in all regions. It’s to support your business if you are impacted by COVID-19 and face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19.


  • They are operating a high trust model at pace. The person’s declaration is sufficient for eligibility. 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 and contractors.

  • The business needs to be registered in New Zealand – this means either a business IRD, GST registration, companies office registration or NZBN.

  • Self-employed 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’.

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.

  • 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.


The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy & COVID-19 Leave Payment will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week

  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.


The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee. This subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business.


Fact Sheet

Ministry of Social Development

Wage Subsidy for Sole-traders and Contractors

Anyone who works in events, entertainment, tourism, hospitality and any other industry who has seen their work dry up overnight, you are eligible for a 12 week wage subsidy, as of today.

Applications are only open for the next 12 weeks.
Payments are being expedited and should be made within 5 days of application.

Sole-traders & contractors You can 

Wage Subsidy + leave payments for businesses

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business. The maximum subsidy that can be paid to a business is $150,000. Businesses can only get this subsidy once.

COVID-19 Leave Payment covers full-time, part-time and casual employees, and contractors who are legally working in New Zealand and who:

  • need to self-isolate in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and have registered as needing to self-isolate with Healthline, cannot work from home and their self isolation is not because they left NZ since the travel restrictions on 16 March 2020 and have since returned, or

  • cannot work because the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or

  • cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate or who are sick with COVID-19.


Employers receiving the payment for employees who are required to self-isolate can receive it for 14 days. As people may be required to self-isolate more than once, employers will be able to apply for this on an ‘as needed’ basis. It can be paid for the entire period an employee is sick (or looking after a dependent person who is sick) with COVID-19 but the employer must apply every 14 days.

(* 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.)
businesses You can

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