Staffing provisions and travel

Updated in relation to COVID-19 pandemic: 26 May 2020. This information will be reviewed on 08 June 2020, or earlier as required.

On 11 May, the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand was to move to Alert Level 2 on Thursday 14 May, reopening schools on Monday 18 May for all students and staff.

People at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled) can also return back to work.

Exemptions for returning to work onsite

Employees must stay at home if they:

  • are sick with COVID-19, or are caring for a dependant who is sick with COVID-19; or
  • are self-isolating, or are caring for a dependant who is self-isolating due to coming into close contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • are unwell generally.

If self-isolating, employees should work remotely (usually from home) wherever practicable. Where it is not possible for an employee to work remotely, discretionary paid leave should be given, paid at normal rates.

Casual staff who are required to self-isolate may be eligible for an emergency payment by application only.

Managing staff leave

Updated leave provisions are available to schools and kura during Alert Level 2, including information on how to make claims.

More information about managing staff leave at Alert Level 2

Providing reassurance to staff and kaimahi

You may have staff who are anxious about returning to work onsite, including those who have underlying health conditions.

Unless sick or required to self-isolate on public health advice, all employees are able to return to work onsite but are asked to do so in a safe and conscientious way. As with any health and safety issue, you need to discuss and agree with your staff member how they can safely return to work. You should talk to each employee in this situation and agree to the safety provisions that will apply on-site. You may need to develop a specific ‘safe return plan’ which manages the staff member’s health and safety.

This could include options, where these are practicable, such as:

  • increased physical distancing
  • designated work areas for them
  • additional cleaning or protective measures or equipment
  • undertaking duties with lower levels of interaction
  • parking options if they are not confident taking public transport and need to drive
  • working from home.

You should engage your school’s health and safety committee and/or union delegates about the measures that are in place to sustain a healthy and safe workplace.

Schools are encouraged to seek assistance from NZSTA if agreement cannot be reached around how staff will return to work.

Engaging relievers and casual workers

At Alert Level 2, we expect relief teachers and other casual employees will be engaged by schools and kura as required.

Many non-teaching staff, such as cleaners and caretakers, will play an important role in re-opening sites and keeping up thorough and regular hygiene practices in line with public health guidance. 

Emergency payment by application only at Alert Level 2

While we expect that the demand for relievers and other casual staff will start to return to normal at Alert Level 2, there may be a small number of casual school employees who need further support.

Support is available for day relief teachers and support staff who are engaged on a casual basis by schools on application only for those who:

  • have worked day relief hours (teachers) or variable hours paid by timesheet (non-teachers) for a state or state-integrated school or kura on at least one occasion during the 2020 school year; and
  • since 18 May 2020 have had to turn down an offer by at least one school to work day relief hours (teachers) or variable hours paid by timesheet (non-teachers) because you or a dependent you care for is:
    • sick with COVID-19 or
    • required to self-isolate due to coming into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will need to submit your application form by 5pm Wednesday 10 June to be processed on pay day 17 June 2020.

This support will be available when required for the first four weeks of Alert Level 2 and reviewed as we progress towards Alert Level 1.

More information about the emergency payment at Alert Level 2

Increase to the minimum wage and issuing new IEA’s to non-union support staff

On 1 April the adult minimum wage went up from $17.70 per hour to $18.90 per hour. Schools must pay this as a minimum to all staff they employ.

The new non-teaching collective agreements (settled in December and January) already contain rates that exceed the new adult minimum wage rate, and staff who are union members are already receiving these rates.

If you haven’t already, you should now offer new Individual Employment Agreements (IEA) with the new rates to all non-union staff members.

Schools were funded for the increase in costs associated with the new rates in March.

We have extended the backdating of the new wage rates to IEAs signed up to 29 May 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on normal school operations.


In Alert Level 2 schools and kura operating costs should return to usual practice.

To ensure that schools and kura have the financial support they require, we have committed to maintaining your current level of operational funding during this time.

We acknowledge that some schools and kura may have incurred additional payroll costs that were unexpected. We are in the process of identifying these additional costs and working through how we will reimburse schools and kura.Schools and kura will not incur any salary-related costs for the emergency payment scheme as it was funded centrally by the Ministry of Education.

If relief cover is required due to COVID-19 schools and kura can claim for additional funding for relief teachers and kairīwhi or non-teaching staff and kaimahi.

Where you are required to backfill a position as the result of COVID-19 restrictions, you can apply for additional support through the Additional Relief Teacher Funding (ARTF) process, noting that your board must fund the relief cost of the first 8 days of absence in each case, each school year.

We want to minimise the work required on your part to complete this process. Where we require additional information that supports the costs you incurred, we will work with you to complete the required applications.

We expect that these reimbursements will be included in the next operational grant instalment.

Please complete the ARTF application through the Education Resourcing System (ERS) and select the COVID-19 option.

To make a request for non-teaching staff relief funding, email with details including:

  • the details and days the additional staff were employed
  • a copy of travel itinerary showing evidence of relevant overseas travel and/or letter from GP or local health authority outlining diagnosis or need for isolation.

If you have any other queries, please contact our Resourcing Contact Centre on 04 463 8383.

More information about additional funding and how to claim

Further assistance or support


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