Skip over navigation
New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters Association Inc

New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters
Association Inc

Latest News / COVID-19 - Workplace operations alert levels

New Zealand remains in Alert Level 4 and all New Zealanders should continue to stay home to save lives. Only businesses that are essential can operate from their business premises during Alert Level 4.

New Zealand will move out of Alert Level 4 lockdown at 11.59pm on Monday 27 April

This guidance provides high-level details on what workplace activities are permitted at different alert levels. This includes:

Guidelines for all businesses

To operate safely at all alert levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must comply with:

  • settings for the current alert level (including public health measures), and
  • any appropriate public health requirements for their workplace (e.g. physical distancing), and
  • all other health and safety obligations.

At all alert levels, businesses need to meet all public health guidelines. These include the following, although they may change over time:

  • Regular disinfecting of surfaces.
  • Encouraging good hand hygiene by allowing frequent hand washing and sanitising.
  • Not having sick people in the workplace.
  • Meeting physical distancing requirements.

Visit covid19.govt.for the full public health guidance and restrictions on activities (external link) at different alert levels. The Ministry of Health also has infectious disease control advice for workplaces (external link).

Businesses should carefully consider how to safely operate at each alert level based on their individual circumstances. Under alert level 3 all businesses that are either continuing or permitted to resume operations need to have a COVID-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely. Visit Worksafe to find out more.

Your COVID-19 safety plan (external link) – Worksafe

Transitioning from Alert Level 4 (external link)  Worksafe

Industry organisations will also be issuing specific guidance for certain sectors and kinds of workplaces. If in doubt, you can contact WorkSafe, your industry organisation or your local chamber of commerce or BusinessNZ.

Alert Level 4

At Alert Level 4, people must work from home unless that is not possible. Only essential work can be done from business premises if it cannot be done from home. It is possible for some business models to operate at Alert Level 4 even if doing non-essential work, e.g. providing online legal advice or online guitar lessons.

Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3, everyone must still work from home unless that is not possible. Workplaces can be reopened if the work cannot be done from home and the workplace can operate consistently with public health guidance. However, there cannot be contact with the public. For example, retail needs to be by contactless purchase and delivery, including drive-through and click and collect. Retail storefronts cannot open to customers (except supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations).

Alert Level 2

 

At Alert Level 2, businesses are encouraged to use alternative ways of working where possible. The aim is to reduce levels of people movement and interaction. For example, a business could use staggered shifts to reduce the amount of interpersonal interaction between workers on premises.

Questions and answers for all businesses

What are some “alternative ways of working” businesses can use?

Alternative ways of working could include remote working, shift-based working to limit the number of people on site, staggering meal breaks, or flexible work arrangements. If this involves changes to contracted hours or conditions, this should be mutually agreed and negotiated in good faith.

I can technically work from home, but it’s really inconvenient, e.g. because my IT services are too slow, or I want access to printing. Can I go into the office at Alert Level 3?

You must work from home at Alert Level 3 unless that is not possible. We understand this isn’t always very convenient, and may result in people being less productive than they otherwise would have been in an office. However we all need to play our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Even if it is inconvenient, people still need to work from home wherever possible.

Can I travel for work?

At Alert Level 4, only essential workers can travel within or outside of their regions for work, where it is necessary to do so. There are additional, limited reasons for travel between regions, such as medical reasons.

At Alert Level 3, everyone can travel for work within their region, or to a neighbouring region. You should only travel if it is necessary. Essential workers can travel outside of their regions, where it is necessary to do so.

At Alert Level 2, you can travel for work anywhere in New Zealand, but should only do so if necessary.

When can I meet with new or existing clients?

At Alert Levels 3 and 4, you should only meet with existing or new clients remotely, unless this is in the course of providing an essential service. You can meet clients in person at Levels 1 and 2.

Questions and answers for services

What if I need some repair work done at home?

If you are able to safely do this repair work yourself, you can do so at any alert level.

If you need to get supplies from a hardware store, you can do this at Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3. At Alert Level 3, you won’t be able to physically go into a hardware store. You will instead need to order by phone/online and have your supplies delivered, or collect them (e.g. through a drive-through system).

You can get tradespeople to come to your home to do any repair work at Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3. However, you and your tradespeople need to ensure the relevant public health measures at each alert level are met. This includes the physical distancing requirements at Alert Levels 2 and 3.

At Alert Level 4, tradespeople can only do work on your property that is immediately needed to maintain human health and safety or avoid significant environmental harm. The relevant public health measures at Alert Level 4 must be met.

Tradespeople will be able to get the supplies they need for any such work at Alert Levels 1 through 4.

Questions and answers for employment matters

My employer is asking me to come to work, but I have health concerns and don’t want to. What should I do?

Employers and employees need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect New Zealand and keep each other safe. This means that normal obligations to keep in regular contact and to act in good faith are more important than ever.

If you might be sick with COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should not go into work at any alert level. Businesses should not allow or ask such employees to work. Your employer may be able to access the Essential Workers Leave Scheme.

If you or someone you live with may be at higher risk of severe illness from contracting COVID-19, you should discuss these concerns with your employer. Employees and employers should agree whether such workers can work from home or change their workplace arrangements to minimise the risks.

Businesses need to meet their health and safety obligations at all alert levels, including engaging staff and managing risks. If a worker is concerned these are not being met, they can raise it with their health and safety representative, union, or notify WorkSafe.

My employer is asking me to come to work, but I can’t access childcare and schools are closed. What should I do?

Employers and employees need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect New Zealand and keep each other safe. This means that normal obligations to keep in regular contact and to act in good faith are more important.

You should discuss your situation with your employer in the first instance. There may be options such as flexible work arrangements or working from home. If you are an essential worker, you can access the Government’s childcare scheme. Schools and ECE centres will be open at Alert Levels 1 – 3, but may not be able to have all enrolled children on-site. If you are unable to work, you should discuss with your employer what leave arrangements can be agreed, including the use of annual or special leave. If your employer is receiving the Wage Subsidy, they must generally pass the full amount received on to the employee.

You may also wish to discuss your situation with Work and Income.

I agreed to a pay cut while at Alert Level 4. Should my wages return to normal if I go back to working my normal hours of work at a lower alert level?

As a general rule, employees should be paid, as normal, for each and every hour that they work.

Some employers and employees may have agreed a reduction in hours during Alert Level 4. If hours worked then increase to normal levels at other alert levels, employees should be paid as normal.

Some employers and employees may have agreed to a reduction in pay, for example to ensure the financial viability of the businesses and to avoid the need for redundancies. Any return to standard wages would depend on what was agreed. Any reduction in pay must have been mutually agreed and negotiated in good faith. Employees should have had an appropriate amount of time to consider their employer’s proposal.

The minimum wage and your employment agreement apply in all cases.

When can I hire new employees?

You can hire employees at any alert level. However interviews should be done remotely at Alert Levels 3 and 4. You can carry out in-person interviews at Alert Levels 1 and 2.

For advice on more COVID-19 related employment matters (external link), visit Employment New Zealand.

How the guidance can be applied in different workplaces

These tables show types of workplaces and how they can apply the rules at different Alert Levels.

More specific guidance will be prepared for sectors, however at this stage, we do not have any further details available. If you have questions, we encourage you to visit this page at a later date.

Workplace premises only accessed by staff

For example: construction, forestry, manufacturing, research institutions or film studios.

In all cases, the applicable public health measures must be followed.

Alert Level 2Alert Level 3Alert Level 4
Plumbers, electricians and tradespeople can work on customers’ property (e.g. in homes). Plumbers, electricians and tradespeople can work on customers’ property (e.g. in homes). Plumbers, electricians and tradespeople can only do maintenance in customers’ homes if it is to maintain the necessities of life or critical to safety.

 

Alert Level 2Alert Level 3Alert Level 4
Building and construction work can be done. Building and construction work can be done. Building and construction work can only be done if it is required immediately to maintain human health and safety, avoid significant environmental harm, or ensure the continuation/prevent the failure of an essential service.
Hardware and DIY stores can open. Hardware and DIY stores can operate and sell all of their goods to any customers via contact-less delivery or pick-up. Hardware and DIY stores can open storefronts only to sell to trade customers who are doing essential work, without in-store browsing. They can also sell essential products with contactless delivery if registered to do so with MBIE.
Call centres can run from premises. Call centres can run from premises for workers who cannot work from home.

Call centres can only operate from premises for workers who cannot work

from home if providing essential services.

Information Source: business.govt.nz