Coronavirus COVID-19 - Over 70's and Other High Risk Groups in Alert Level 3

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Over 70's and Other High Risk Groups/ Extended Leave Payments in Alert Level 3


The Government has announced a change to the Leave Support Scheme and has provided guidance around the protection of people at higher risk of severe illness should they contract COVID-19. We summarise key aspects for Employers below:

Over 70’s and Other High Risk Groups (Immunocompromised, respiratory illness or other health vulnerability)

  • People over 70 years and those classified as “high risk” are now able to return to work. If they do, employers must take extra health and safety measures for these individuals beyond the public health guidelines (such as physical distancing and sanitisation).  
  • This means speaking individually with each applicable worker to determine and agree what further precautions or measures (if any) can be taken to protect these workers at work.  This could include continuing to work from home (if possible) or changing workplace arrangements.
  • Employers must be prepared to regularly monitor and review plans put in place for these workers to assess how things are going.  Any health and safety concerns will need to be addressed and minimised, as soon as they arise.

Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme

  • The Government has extended its Leave Support Scheme beyond those working in essential services to all businesses, organisations and self-employed. 
  • Where Employers are unable to accommodate a return to the workplace for a high-risk worker, they can now access the Leave Support Scheme for that worker. 
  • This scheme is set as the same as the wage subsidy ($585.80 per week for full-timers and $350 per week for part-timers).
  • Employers will need to work together with their high-risk workers to identify if they are eligible for the leave support, as well as what their leave and pay arrangements will be. Any agreement reached must be in writing and kept on file.
  • Employers with eligible workers can apply online (via the Work and Income website) from 1 May 2020. 
  • Initial payments for affected workers will be for a period of four weeks. Employers will be able to re-apply for these same workers after the four weeks if the leave payments are still required.  Employers may also make additional applications for other workers in their workplace, if further workers require the leave payment at a later date.


Further Information on the above can be found on the following links:


If you have any questions about this, please feel free to get in touch with our Employment Law Team.


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