Covid 19 Level 3 lockdown now in place in Auckland and North West Waikato. Need support? Call us 0508 462 427

Covid-19

COVID Updated 7 September 2021

Who else can I talk to if I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed or worried?

Your emotional and mental health is important. It is okay to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating, but there are some things you can do to feel better. Reach out to your usual support, like family, whānau and friends and talk about how you feel. Try sticking to a routine such as having regular mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising if possible. If you feel that you need to speak with a health professional for support with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to talk with a trained counsellor.

If I need to pay a family member, what pay rate should they get?

At the very least, the legal minimum wage if they are a contractor. If they are a support worker, then the pay equity rates apply. As long as the rate is over those two minimums, then it’s up to the employer what they would like to pay. Keep in mind, the rate should mirror what is paid to the person who usually provides the support to ensure that costs remain with the IF holders budget.

Would the Ministry allow part of the funding to be paid to parents or family members if a support worker is unable to attend?

Yes. Individualised Funding can still be used to pay family who live in the same house if your support worker is unavailable or you are unable to have them back.
Please note Respite funding can only be used if it is giving the main carer a break.
If you are the Agent, you will need to be set up as a contractor during COVID-19. The hours worked will need to be claimed back as an expense under ‘Contract Care’ and ensure these earnings are declared to IRD. Manawanui can do this on your behalf if you choose. This is called Schedular Contractor, and you will need to set yourself up with our payroll service to choose this option. It will cost the same as our normal payroll service which is $15 per fortnight. In this instance, the agent should only cover the usual allocated hours of work per week.

If your usual allocated weekly hours of work are over 40 hours, each paid family member cannot exceed a 40 hour per week maximum. If a non-agent parent or family member is to cover support hours during COVID-19, they can be an employee or contractor.
Please note that if they are an employee, Manawanui will file PAYE.

If they choose to be a contractor, they will need to declare any earnings to IRD, or be set up with Manawanui as a Schedular contractor (see above). A non-agent parent or family member should only cover the usual allocated hours per week of support required. If your usual allocated weekly hours of work are over 40 hours, each paid family member cannot exceed a 40 hour per week maximum.

Can I use my Individualised Funding to purchase personal protective equipment?

Yes, if you are able to source these, then you can use your Individualised Funding to pay for them.

I want to get my groceries delivered, will my funding cover this?

Yes, you can get your groceries delivered and use your funding to pay the delivery cost. You still cannot use your funding to cover the cost of the groceries themselves.

I get my supports for the gym, I now can’t access the gym, will I be able to use my funding to buy gym equipment?

Yes, within reason. A full gym set up is unnecessary, but a couple of dumbbells or stretch bands etc is fine.
Remember, you still need to stick to your budget.

Where can I get tech items, and how much can I spend? What about tech for educational purposes?

If you are looking to purchase a tech item during the lockdown, these items need to be ‘fair and reasonable” according to the MOH guidelines and must fit within your budget allocation. You should consider the cost of what you need and how long you will need it for COVID-19 related spends only. If the item is for educational purposes, you will need to contact the school first to see what they can provide or be borrowed, as per the educational funding guidelines. Please call our Customer Experience Centre if you are unsure or need to talk through a tech purchase. 0508 462 427 cec@manawanui.org.nz Please note the standard purchasing guidelines apply for technology – i.e. up to $1,200 for hardware. visit

Can I make it mandatory for my staff to get vaccinated?

1. New staff - Yes
Vaccination is a legitimate “pre-employment” question, and an employer CAN ask that question and seek evidence that the person has been vaccinated.
The question is particularly relevant where the workplace involves dealing with high risk category people. You can also make being vaccinated a condition of employment if it is stated in the employment agreement when you offer someone a job.

2. Current staff- No
Employment law prevents Employers from being able to force any medical procedure on an employee as a requirement to continue employment. We suggest you have a conversation about the risks involved with Support work and that getting vaccinated can reduce that risk. If you want specific advice about vaccinations for your staff we suggest calling EMA to get free advice over the phone. However, this is an evolving situation like none we have faced in recent history and things change quickly.
Matt Dearing, Lead Counsel at EMA also provided a fantastic link to a great article on the subject with comment from the esteemed Susan Hornsby-Geluk that aligns with EMA Legal’s view of the law.
Read the article here: Can your boss call the shots on Covid-19 vaccination? | Stuff.co.nz

What if my support worker doesn’t want to come into work?

They will then need to use their annual leave or leave without pay. If they are not coming in because they are sick, they can use sick leave.
If the leave is COVID related they can use the COVID-19 Leave Scheme. See here for details on the Work and Income website

What if my support worker works at another job?

AtLlevel 4, provided adequate health and safety measures are in place at both workplaces such as PPE, your support worker will be fine to work with you.
However, we recognise that for immunosuppressed people this creates added risk and worry.
If your support worker would prefer not to work with you, they can take leave without pay or annual leave.
If you would prefer your support worker not to work, you need to discuss this with them in good faith.
You must either continue paying them, agree with them that they are happy to take leave, or terminate their employment. All of these options require discussion with your employee and we recommend you contact the EMA for further support.
The free advice line for Manawanui customers is 0800 300 362.
You can visit their website also here https://www.ema.co.nz/

What if I do not feel safe expanding my bubble?

This is a personal decision. You should consider your safety as well as the safety of your support workers.
If you are uncomfortable with having your support workers in your bubble, you will need to have a conversation with them about the long-term plans.
If you have the budget, you can continue to pay them, or apply for the wage subsidy through MSD and continue to pay them using this method. If this is the case, you will need to explore options with your support workers. This may include agreeing to changes in hours or days worked within your allocated support hours.

You must comply with the employment agreements you have in place, and provide any relevant notice period, prior to making the change. If you think you need to alter your staff’s agreements, you can look at the guidance here 
f you want to continue to have a smaller number of support workers, then you must go through a proper employment process with your support workers.
You can find out more about terminating an employment agreement here www.employment.govt.nz/ending-employment/

How many staff can I have to support me?

You are able to include staff in your bubble if you are safe to do so.
Have conversations with your support workers about what you want your supports to look like.
Continue to ensure good hygiene practices are used, including frequent hand washing. They must wash and dry their hands thoroughly and cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or their elbow. They should also not visit you if they, or you, are unwell, or have been in contact with someone who is unwell or has COVID symptoms.
If you absolutely need support, you must ensure your staff use a full PPE kit for any support when entering the home.

How do I stay safe when having support staff in my home?

It is important to maintain 1 metre distance between you and your support staff and to use good hygiene and infection control practices.
If you are having personal care, support staff will need to wear the appropriate PPE.
Refer to this Ministry of Health guide for your situation.
 

Will I be able to get support?

Level 4 Yes, support workers are considered essential workers. This means your support workers can still work even if it means supporting you to access groceries or medical support. In Level 4, you should be considering how you want your support to look, you may want to consider if claiming the wage subsidy for your staff is appropriate while you pay family to cover your support needs.

Level 2 It is considered safe enough for most people to expand their bubble to include support staff from outside the home at Level 2. This means your staff should be working as usual. If there is a reason you do not feel safe having your staff in your home, then you will need to discuss with them the different payment options available.

How do I pay my staff the leave support from MSD?

Please forward the full amount to the below bank account number and Manawanui will continue to process your employee’s timesheets.

ASB Bank Account Holder:   Manawanui Support Ltd
ASB Bank Account number: 12-3136-0222554-50

Please ensure you provided the following references.
Particulars: Your Surname
Code: NHI number
Reference: MSD COVID

Any questions on this process can be answered by our CEC team.

DHB IF Users - What is COVID-19 Leave Support?

Level 4 The Ministry of Health covered both Self-Isolation leave and Stand Down leave in Level 4 in 2020. This has changed in 2021. The Ministry of Health will not be covering staff leave in the same way.
You can continue to pay staff stand down leave if it is within your budget.
If you do not have the budget to cover this
• Support workers can take leave
• You can contact your NASC to have a conversation about your options

If your support worker qualifies, you can access COVID-19 Leave Support In all Alert Levels, you can apply to the Ministry of Social Development for funding for support workers who cannot work. This funding is called COVID-19 Leave Support.
You can apply for this funding on the government Work and Income website here

In Alert Level 4, your support workers must not come to work if they or someone they live with:
• could be sick with COVID-19
• have had close contact with someone with COVID-19
• are at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.

If any of these apply, you should discuss and agree with your support worker, that they must not come to your home to work. If you request  COVID-19 Leave Support, this can be paid into the employer’s bank account. This payment will need to be sent to Manawanui to pass on this payment to your support staff once you are ready to pay the COVID-19 Leave Support through the payroll system.
​​​​​​​Please continue to note the support staff timesheets as either ‘Self-Isolation’, or ‘Stand Down. This will enable you to have a record of payments made.

Ministry of Health IF Users - What funding is available if I need to stand-down or isolate my staff?

Level 4
The Ministry of Health have informed us that they will once again cover some of what we called stand down leave for your employees. This is when the employee is willing to work, but you do not want them to because you have closed your bubble. So for clarity:
• You can ONLY pay your employees (not yourself) Covid leave to the same amount that you would otherwise be paying them – no more or it will get rejected. This amount is based on previous claims. So, for example if you normally pay your employee 5 hours a week, then that’s ALL you can pay them for Covid leave.
• If you already have received the MSD Leave Scheme or MSD Wage Subsidy, you cannot claim this Covid leave as well. Proceed with the steps to get the MSD funding put into your IF portal account and use that to pay your employees. You cannot claim or use both.
 • This option (as well as the MSD funding if managed to get that) will be available in Level 3 and 4. This is only available to MOH funded customers at the moment. If you are a DHB customer, you still need to attempt to get either the Leave Scheme – which seems to be easiest, or the Wage Subsidy through MSD.

Level 2
At Level 2 it is considered safe for most people to expand their bubble to include support staff who live outside the home. This means the leave support from the Ministry of Health is not available from Level 2. If you believe there is a reason you don’t feel safe to have your staff return as normal, you will need to talk to them about what the best option is for both parties.

What is COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment?

If your staff have had a Covid test and are waiting for results and therefore required to isolate until they return a negative result, you can apply for the Short-term absence payment, which is a one-off payment of $350.
The link with all the information on eligibility and how to apply is here, at the Work and Income website.  
If your support worker cannot come to work because of other risk factors or the need to isolate, you can apply for the Leave Support Scheme.

What if I am feeling unwell?

You should contact your employer and stay at home. You should do the same at any alert level. You should call your doctor if you are feeling unwell with any COVID-19 symptoms.
Your doctor will talk with you and arrange for you to be tested if they think this is needed. COVID-19 symptoms are:
• fever – this is when you feel really hot and have a temperature of 38 degrees or more
• a cough that is new or one that has been getting worse over a few days
• shortness of breath or finding it hard to breathe
• sore throat
• sneezing and runny nose
• temporary loss of smell.

You can find more information here
https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-health-advice-general-public

What if I need to travel across Covid Alert Level Boundaries?

For staff who need to travel through an Alert Level boundary line, you will need to provide proof that they are allowed to travel for work.
This means that your employer will need to apply for each of their staff using the online form on the MBIE website.
Just as with the MSD funding options, this is cumbersome and takes some time and patience. Unfortunately, we have been told it is the only acceptable documentation and the letter we provided last time is no longer adequate.
Apply for Travel Documents Covid-19 Essential Services Letter 

Am I still meant to be working?

Level 2 
Yes, in level two there is no stand-down leave support for Employers. If you need to stay home for health and safety reasons, there are some leave options available through MSD. You will need to talk to your Employer about what option is best for your situation.

Level 4
Yes, support workers are considered essential workers. Under Level 4, support staff can continue to work with either appropriate social distancing OR the use of PPE. Appropriate use of PPE is covered on our website or on the Ministry of Health website.
Read the document here on the Ministry of Health website. 
This means you can still work even if it means driving to and from work or supporting your employer to access groceries or medical support.

Where can I get up-to-date information about COVID-19?

The Ministry of Health website has the most up to date information. Click here