Managing staff leave during Alert Level 3

Updated in relation to COVID-19 pandemic: 22 April 2020. This information will be reviewed on 11 May 2020, or earlier as required.

Managing staff leave at Alert Level 2

Managing staff leave at Alert Level 1

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:

  • 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 continue to work from home?

There may be circumstances where an employee or kaimahi doesn’t want to return back 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) 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 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.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback