How quickly can you move between Alert Levels?

12 August 2020

When New Zealand came out of Alert Level 2 earlier this year and we reached the landmark of 100 days without community transmission, you could be forgiven for thinking that we had done the hard yards and life had returned to a semblance of normality. However, Auckland’s move to Level 3 today has reminded us that we are not immune to this pandemic and we need to act swiftly and decisively.

Over the last month of so, many agreements between employers and employees which deal with reduced wages or other pandemic related measures will have expired, moving employees back to their regular employment terms. Now businesses will be thinking about whether they need to consult with employees again to seek reductions if our current Alert Levels remain in place for any significant period.

This latest outbreak has demonstrated that as a country we need to be nimble enough to move between Alert Levels quickly. That means your business needs to do the same because we could be moving up and down Alert Levels for some time. Whilst many businesses will now have a pandemic plan which deals with working arrangements during various Alert Levels, something else to consider is whether you have a permanent agreement with your employees in place to adjust payment terms depending on which Alert Level the country or your region is in. For example, if you have roles that can’t operate at Level 3 then an agreement with those employees that allows you to move pay rates when the country moves will save having to undergo a consultation process each time the country moves.

Whilst we may not be in the current Alert Levels very long, building in flexibility to your employment terms now may help your business move quicker to external circumstances. Obviously, such a plan will require consultation with employees, but the aim to do this once rather than multiple times.

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