Managing staff leave during Level 3

This page summarises leave provisions for staff at Alert Level 3.

Updated in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic on 31 August 2020. This information will be reviewed as required.

Information around managing staff in Alert Level 2 is available here

The Auckland region has moved to Alert Level 2 from midday on Sunday 30 August. The following information summarises leave provisions in an Alert Level 3 scenario.

Schools between years 1 to 10 can safely open but will have limited capacity. Students should learn from home if possible.

All decisions about staff attending the work site must be in line with public health requirements. 

When planning and arranging staffing, bear in mind that the large majority of staff and students should work and learn at home. You must make reasonable efforts to ensure that only those staff who are necessary to support the number of children that you have at school, are on site. You should work with your staff to identify who is able to be at the workplace and how you will manage the learning programme for the majority of students who are learning at home, while providing suitable supervision and learning for those who need to come to school.
 
You must follow Ministry of Education and public health guidance to operate in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 transmission and ensures a safe environment for your staff and students.
 
In general, as you will be providing learning to your whole student community, you should engage staff and kaimahi as you normally would. This includes employing permanent, fixed term and relief teachers, support staff, teacher aides and other regularly engaged non-teaching staff. Timesheets for day relief teachers you had previously booked to work and casual staff should be submitted as if you were open for onsite instruction as usual.

Where the usual work a staff member performs is not available, they can be provided with alternate duties as you adjust to different alert levels.

You should talk to staff members who care for children who are younger than 14 years old. They may require flexibility of duties, or start and finish times, due to the staggered timing of school days and limitations of before and after school care. Their children should remain at home if they have a parent or caregiver available to look after them at home, and they have access to distance learning, otherwise they may attend a school or early learning service.

You may have staff members who are unable to get to school because they are unable to enter or exit the Alert Level 3 zone. These staff members should be asked to work from home wherever practicable, or placed on discretionary paid leave if working from home is not possible.

Emergency payment scheme

The emergency payment system was re-established for casual workers who wouldn't have received any payment due to the recent Alert Level 3 lockdown restrictions in the Auckland region (12 – 26 August 2020).

More about the emergency payment scheme for casual staff

Reasons some staff may need to remain at home

As detailed below, not all of your employees will work on site. Staff must, or should be allowed, to stay at home for reasons that include:

You will need to initiate discussions with these employees who may not be able to return to work, and ensure working from home, or leave arrangements if required, are in place for these staff members during Alert Level 3.
 
Where someone meets the definition of a vulnerable person(external link) you may agree they can work on site if they choose to, and you both agree they can do so safely. Staff who are at-risk and are staying away from school might be prioritised to support learners from home. You may request a medical certificate for confirmation of vulnerability to assist you in providing appropriate health and safety measures for them.

The following leave provisions are available to schools and kura during Alert Level 3, including information how to make claims: 

Situation

Leave Type

How to claim

Teachers or Principals who are not attending/returning to school because they have:

  • contracted COVID-19
  • are required to self-isolate due to public health advice, such being in direct contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19
  • are required to care for a person dependent on them for care, as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis, in COVID-19 isolation
  • may be more vulnerable to COVID-19
  • are living with someone who is recognised as vulnerable
  • have medical reasons that prevent them from attending.

Where the Teacher or Principal is required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible.

 

If the staff member is working from home no absence needs to be recorded.

 

If the Teacher or Principal is unable to work from home, or is caring for dependents who are self-isolating, the absence should be recorded as discretionary paid leave.

 

If the Teacher or Principal is sick, or required to care for a sick dependent, the absence should be recorded as sick leave or domestic sick leave. At the conclusion of the leave the Teacher or Principal can request disregarded sick leave related to COVID-19.

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home, or the school is closed due to COVID-19.

 

To apply for discretionary paid leave schools should complete a Novo12 form using the DISCR. If you have any issues processing discretionary paid leave, please contact employment relations using the email address below. Schools should hold evidence for the reason of the period of that leave applies.

 To apply for disregarded sick leave please email:

employment.relations@education.govt.nz

Include evidence that the period of leave was due to contracting COVID-19 or caring for a dependent who has contracted COVID-19.

Non-teaching staff who are not attending/returning to school because they have:

  • have contracted COVID-19
  • are required to self-isolate due to public health advice, such being in direct contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19
  • are required to care for a person dependent on them for care, as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis, in COVID-19 isolation
  • may be more vulnerable to COVID-19
  • are living with someone who is recognised as vulnerable
  • have medical reasons that prevent them from attending.

Where staff are required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible.

 

If the staff member is working from home no absence needs to be recorded.

 

If the staff member is self-isolating and unable to work from home, or caring for dependants who are self-isolating, the absence should be recorded as discretionary paid leave.


If the staff member is sick or required to care for a sick dependent, the absence should be recorded as sick leave or domestic sick leave.

 

Additional discretionary/paid special leave is provided where sick leave runs out.

 

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home or the school is closed due to COVID-19.

 

In other circumstances schools can forward leave forms or enter leave in the usual manner.

 

To apply for discretionary paid leave schools should complete a Novo12 form using the DISCR. If you have any issues processing discretionary paid leave email:
employment.relations@education.govt.nz

 

For employees who usually complete a timesheet, the school should indicate what hours they would have been required to work had the employee not had to take leave or self-isolate.

 

Schools should hold evidence for the reason of the period of that leave applies.

 

Information about seeking additional funding is outlined further down this page.

Schools have been closed due to a COVID-19 case

Depending on the circumstances staff may be able to continue working at the school. If the site is completely closed they should work from home where this is possible.

Learning at all schools and kura should now be delivered remotely for the majority of students

A claim is not required, as all staff should continue to be paid their usual salary during the closure, but the Ministry may contact your school for further information.

Note: Discretionary paid leave covers working days/hours the staff member would have normally worked.

Note: Disregarded sick leave means time off for sickness or injury isn’t deducted from a teacher’s or principal’s sick leave balance. Only teachers and principals qualify for disregarded sick leave and it only applies where certain criteria are met.

What to do if a staff member wishes to work from home?

There may be circumstances where a staff member doesn’t want to work on-site because they feel it puts them, or others at risk.

Schools should take a health and safety risk-based approach to understand and investigate the concerns of their employees in good faith. You will need to determine an appropriate response in line with employer and employee duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and advice from the Ministry of Health. 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.

Some relevant factors might be:

  • The risk to the employee (e.g. their own health status if they remain in the workplace, based on medical advice)
  • The risk to other people at school (e.g. if a person in the employee’s home is sick with COVID-19 symptoms but has not yet been tested, or is in self-isolation).
  • The risk to other people in the employee’s household or ‘bubble’.

If the employee has provided medical evidence that they should self-isolate based on public health guidelines and health and safety advice, then:

  • the employee should work from home wherever practicable, or
  • If they are unable to work from home, discretionary paid leave should be provided.

Under health and safety law, staff member(s) may stop working if they believe the work would expose them or any other person to a serious risk to health and safety arising from an immediate or imminent evidenced exposure to a hazard such as COVID-19 infection. They must discuss their concerns with you, and may only continue with that course of action if they reasonably believe that risk still remains.

If after considering public health guidelines and health and safety advice, you do not agree the employee should self-isolate, you should work with them to try to identify why they consider the work is unsafe, and rectify the matter, so far as is reasonably practicable. While your employee’s health and safety concerns are being resolved you may require them to carry out suitable alternative work, either onsite or working from home. You may also agree on a leave arrangement such as annual leave (for non-teaching staff) or unpaid discretionary leave.

Funding

Additional relief teacher funding

Schools can claim for additional relief teacher funding if relief cover is required for a teacher who is in isolation for a specified period because they:

  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or,
  • are required to be in self-isolation or,
  • are required to care for dependents who are either sick or in self-isolation or,
  • are over the age of 70 or,
  • are high-risk due to a compromised immune system or an underlying health condition

To make a request for additional relief teacher funding, use the Education Resourcing System (ERS)(external link)

Additional funding for non-teaching staff

Up to two weeks’ cover is available for schools that need to employ additional non-teaching staff to cover those who:

  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or,
  • are required to be in self-isolation or,
  • are required to care for dependents who are either sick or in self-isolation or,
  • are over the age of 70 or,
  • are high-risk due to a compromised immune system or an underlying health condition

If a non-teaching staff member is required by health authorities to be absent from school for a period longer than two weeks, as a result of being a close contact or having contracted the COVID-19, please contact our Ministry Resourcing Contact Centre for further advice on 04 463 8383.

To make a request for additional non-teaching staff funding, email resourcing@education.govt.nz 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.

 Any other queries, please contact our Resourcing Contact Centre on 04 463 8383.

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