From tomorrow, employers can get $350 to help pay workers waiting for Covid-19 test results, if staff cannot work from home.
Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said the Short-Term Absence Payment would also cover the cost of sick leave for workers with no sick leave available.
“We need people to take the test if they feel unwell and removing any barriers is important,” she said in a statement.
Employers can contact the Ministry of Social Development to apply for the one-off payment to help pay workers who need to stay home while they await test results.
The payment can also be provided for close contacts of a person being tested for the virus, when close contacts are asked by health agencies to stay at home.
The payment, which was announced in December, is available for self-employed workers and parents who need to miss work while children’s test results are pending.
“We’ve made it easy to apply for, with a very simple application criteria,” Sepuloni said.
Minister for Workplace Relations Michael Wood said the new payment would help businesses do their bit to keep coronavirus out of the community.
“We’ve listened to businesses and workers alike who said we needed a way to support businesses to help workers stay home if they’re getting tested,” Wood said in a statement.
The new payment would complement the existing Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme for businesses with staff who could spread an infection, he said.
“The Short-Term Absence Payment can be used to cover the cost of a worker’s sick leave for those who are feeling unwell and is also available to enable businesses to continue to pay workers who aren’t eligible for sick leave or don’t have any sick leave left.
“This helps everyone stay home and stop the spread of Covid-19,” Wood said.
The government was also planning to increase the minimum sick leave entitlement to 10 days a year, he said.