Managing staff leave during Level 2

This page summarises leave provisions for staff at Alert Level 2.

Updated in relation to COVID-19 pandemic on 31 August 2020. This information will be reviewed on 14 September 2020, or earlier as required.

Information around managing staff in Alert Level 3 is available here

At midnight on Sunday 30 August, Auckland moved to Alert Level 2, joining the rest of the country who remain at this level until the next review date of 6 September. 

The following information will support your staffing arrangements at Alert Level 2:

  • At Alert Level 2 it is safe for all students, children and staff to attend school and early learning services. There will be appropriate precautions in place
  • Schools and kura must adhere to legislative and government requirements, including implementing controls and measures to meet Alert Level 2 standards, such as hygiene practices, and continuing practices to support contact tracing.
  • Unless required to self-isolate on public health advice, all employees are able to attend work on-site, but are asked to do so in a safe and conscientious way.
  • People at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (eg those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled) can also safely work on-site. You should talk to each employee in this situation and agree the safety provisions that will apply on-site.
  • Employees who cannot be on-site for health reasons should work from home, or be provided with alternative duties where it is safe to do so. If neither option is available, the Board may choose to provide discretionary paid leave (at their cost) to teaching staff, or approved annual leave or other paid leave for non-teaching staff. Where no paid leave arrangement can be agreed, special unpaid leave can be provided.
  • Where a person cannot work on site as normal due to an underlying health concern they should provide you with appropriate medical evidence to support this request (such as a medical certificate).
  • Employees are expected to resume or continue their usual childcare arrangements, if needed. Some flexibility may be required if all usual childcare options are not available.
  • Where there are genuine limitations to working on site, employees may require flexible working arrangements to accommodate those limitations such as different start/finish times, working remotely, and/or rotating days both on-site and working from home.

Emergency payment scheme

The emergency payment scheme was re-established by application only for casual workers who won’t receive any payment due to the current Alert Level 2 lockdown restrictions.

More about the emergency payment scheme for casual staff

Reasons some staff may need to remain at home

Employees must stay at home if they are sick with COVID-19, are unwell generally, or are caring for a dependant who is sick with COVID-19.
 
Sick or dependant sick leave should be applied in line with your usual sick leave policy. A medical certificate should be provided in line with the requirements of the relevant employment agreement. Sick leave provided to teachers and principals due to COVID-19 can be disregarded on application to the Ministry. Dependant sick leave is not eligible to be disregarded.

If the employee has insufficient sick leave, they should receive additional discretionary paid leave so they can continue to be paid.

Casual staff who are booked to work should be provided with sick leave for the period that they have been booked in for if they are unwell.

Employees must stay at home if they are self-isolating, or are caring for a dependant who is self-isolating, on instruction of public health. In this case:

  • 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.

Staff leave provisions

The following leave provisions are available to schools and kura during Alert Level 2, including information how to make claims:

Teachers or principals:

Situation

Leave Type

How to claim

They are sick with COVID-19, are unwell generally, or are caring for a dependant who is sick with COVID-19

Their absence should be recorded as sick leave or domestic sick leave in line with their usual sick leave policy.

At the conclusion of the leave the teacher or principal can request disregarded sick leave related to COVID-19.

Dependant sick leave is not eligible to be disregarded.

If the employee has insufficient sick leave, they should receive additional discretionary leave so they can continue to be paid.

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.

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@education.govt.nz.

Schools should hold evidence for the reason that the period of leave applies. A medical certificate should be provided in accordance with the relevant collective employment agreement

They are self-isolating, or are caring for a dependant who is self-isolating, on instruction of public health advice

Where the teacher or principal is required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible or be provided with alternative duties.

If working from home, then no absence needs to be recorded.

If they are unable to work from home and alternative duties are not available, the absence should be recorded as discretionary paid leave, paid at normal rates.

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home or completing alternative duties.

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

Schools should hold evidence for the reason of the period of that leave applies, including the applicable public health instruction to self-isolate
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

They have an underlying health condition and do not want to return to work

Schools should take a health and safety risk-based approach to understand and investigate the concerns of employee 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.

If you both agree that the employee should self-isolate based on public health guidelines and health and safety advice, the staff member should work from home wherever practicable.

Where it is not possible for the staff member to work from home you should agree a leave arrangement such as discretionary paid leave.

If after considering public health guidelines and health and safety advice, you do not agree that the staff member should self-isolate, you should treat the situation as a work from home request, generously applying your schools policy on this, and agree the staff member works from home wherever practicable.

Where it is not possible for the staff member to work from home, you should endeavour to address the staff member’s concerns as far as possible and ask the staff member to attend work, or agree a leave arrangement e.g paid special leave.

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home.

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 other leave types, schools can forward leave forms or enter leave in the usual manner.

They have dependent children who are unable to attend school or an early learning service because the school or service is closed due to COVID-19.

Employees should continue to work to the best extent possible, including working from home.

Employees should be encouraged to identify alternative care arrangements wherever possible.

If working from home is not possible and alternative care is not available, they may receive additional discretionary leave so they can continue to be paid.

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home.

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

 

Support staff, caretakers, cleaners and other non-teaching staff: 

Situation

 Leave type

 How to claim

They are sick with COVID-19, are unwell generally, or are caring for a dependant who is sick with COVID-19

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.

If the employee has insufficient sick leave, they should receive additional discretionary leave so they can continue to be paid. 

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.

Schools should hold evidence for the reason that the period of that leave applies. A medical certificate should be provided in accordance with the relevant collective employment agreement.

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

They are self-isolating, or are caring for a dependant who is self-isolating, on instruction of public health advice

Where staff are required to self-isolate they should work from home where possible or be provided with alternative duties.

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

If the staff member is self-isolating, or caring for dependants who are self-isolating, and unable to work from home and alternative duties cannot be provided, the absence should be recorded as discretionary paid leave

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home or completing alternative duties.

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 to self-isolate.

Schools should hold evidence for the reason of the period of that leave applies, including the applicable public health instruction to self-isolate
Information about seeking additional funding is outlined further down this page.

They have an underlying health condition and do not want to return to work.

Schools should take a health and safety risk-based approach to understand and investigate the concerns of employee 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.

If you both agree that the employee should self-isolate based on public health guidelines and health and safety advice, the staff member should work from home wherever practicable.

Where it is not possible for the staff member to work from home you should agree a leave arrangement such as annual leave for non-teaching staff, or unpaid special leave.

If after considering public health guidelines and health and safety advice, you do not agree that the staff member should self-isolate, you should treat the situation as a work from home request, generously applying your schools policy on this, and agree the staff member works from home wherever practicable.

Where it is not possible for the staff member to work from home, you should endeavour to address the staff member’s concerns as far as possible and ask the staff member to attend work, or agree a leave arrangement (e.g. annual leave or unpaid special leave).

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home.

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 other leave types, schools can forward leave forms or enter leave in the usual manner.

They are unable work due to a school closure.

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.

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.

Casual staff, including day-relievers and support staff paid by timesheet, who were booked to work when the school or kura closed, should be paid for any work they were booked for.

They have dependent children who are unable to attend school or an early learning service because the school or service is closed due to COVID-19.

Employees should work to the best extent possible, including working from home.

Employees should be encouraged to identify alternative care arrangements wherever possible.

If working from home is not possible and alternative care is not available, they may receive additional discretionary leave so they can continue to be paid.

A claim is not required if the staff member is working from home.

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

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.

I have a staff member who is high risk, or worried about working on-site, what can I do?

At Alert Level 2 you may have staff members who are anxious about returning to work on-site, including those who have underlying health conditions.

Unless required to self-isolate on public health advice all employees are able to return to work on-site, 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. This should start by hearing the staff member’s concerns and working through how the measures put in place at your school or kura mitigate these concerns. 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.

People at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (eg those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled) can return back to work. You should talk to each employee in this situation and agree 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

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

I have a staff member who has a medical certificate stating they can’t return to work, but they are not ill – what can I do?

If a staff member provides a medical certificate precluding them from returning to work, it will be necessary for you to work with them, with the support of their medical practitioner, to find a safe return to work solution.

In the unlikely event that a safe return cannot be agreed and the staff member cannot at any time in the foreseeable future, return to work, schools are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from NZSTA.

If, by agreement, the teacher is working from home or is granted paid or unpaid leave the school cannot access the additional relief teacher scheme. The additional relief teacher scheme is intended to provide relief where a teacher is unable to work due to illness or the requirement to self-isolate. We encourage schools to seek advice about their options and how to manage these situations by contacting the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA).

NZSTA provides employment advice and support to all State and State integrated schools and can be contacted by email at eradvice@nzsta.org.nz or call 0800 782 435 (option 2) or they have a range of information on their website at www.nzsta.org.nz(external link)

When can a staff member take sick leave and when can I request they provide a medical certificate?

A staff member is able to take sick leave when they, or a dependant is ill or injured. Their employer can request they provide a medical certificate in line with their collective agreement (or IEA) and the school’s leave policy.

Will sick leave or domestic leave be disregarded for teachers?

Disregarded sick leave for teaching staff applies where the staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Sick leave for general illness does not qualify to be disregarded. Sick leave taken to care for a dependant also does not qualify to be disregarded.

What happens when a staff member runs out of sick leave?

Boards can approve anticipated sick leave in line with the staff member’s collective agreement (or IEA). Where anticipated sick leave is not available the staff member can be granted additional discretionary paid leave (at the boards cost) so they can continue to be paid during Alert Level 2.

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.

 To make a request for additional relief teacher funding, use the Education Resourcing System (ERS) using this link: http://services.education.govt.nz/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.

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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