An all-of-government group leads the COVID-19 response. These guidelines are issued as part of the Public Service Commissioner’s responsibilities under that response.

These workforce guidelines assist Public sector (previously State Services) agencies to comply with the public health and social measures being taken in the fight against COVID-19.

The Public sector should follow these workforce guidelines during a pandemic. In applying these guidelines, it is important that Public sector agencies take a consistent approach and model what is expected for the rest of New Zealand.

Complying with the public health and social measures is the bottom line for all agencies while continuing to provide public services to the fullest extent possible for all New Zealand.

Agencies should continue to engage with staff and unions on planning for complying with the public health and social measures of the COVID-19 response.

Agency chief executives are responsible for deciding how to apply these guidelines in the particular context of their agency.

Guidance on the health and safety and workplace considerations is available from the Government Health and Safety Lead and Government Property Group.

These guidelines will be updated as further decisions are made. Check this website for the latest version.

Current situation

From 06:00am Sunday 7 March, Auckland will move to Level 2.

The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1.

For more information about the Alert Levels, see the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Everyone is reminded of the importance to record your movements, turn on Bluetooth in the NZ COVID Tracer app and scan QR codes wherever you go and continue to maintain good hygiene practices. In addition, face coverings are now required on all forms of public transport, at all levels. See the COVID-19 website for details.

For employees who test positive for COVID-19, or who are identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case and required to self-isolate (and cannot work from home) special leave should be provided while they are self-isolating. See further details for Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 1.

Key principles to apply at Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 1

  • Alert Level 2 guidelines apply to workplaces in the regional boundaries of Auckland as set out in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No.5) 2021.
  • Alert Level 1 guidelines apply to all other employees and workplaces in the rest of New Zealand.
  • Face coverings are required on all public transport at Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 1. See the COVID-19 website for details.

For workplaces in regions at Alert Level 2

Services and working arrangements should be maintained at usual levels from the usual place of work. Public services should continue to be delivered and usual working arrangements maintained. This should be the default position for your agency.

Agencies must meet Alert Level 2, WorkSafe NZ and public health requirements. Agencies must adhere to legislative and government requirements to operate safely, including implementing controls and measures to meet Alert Level 2 standards for workplaces, such as a general requirement for physical distancing of one metre in the workplace, good hygiene practices, wearing face coverings and contact tracing including use of Bluetooth on the COVID-19 tracer app and scanning QR codes.

Continue to take account of individual employee circumstances. At Alert Level 2, we need to continue to ensure that employees’ personal circumstances are taken into account. This includes being, or caring for someone who is, at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness. 

Employees can continue to travel to work on public transport safely, as wearing a face covering is mandatory in most circumstances. Employees should also take sensible precautions such as avoiding sitting or standing next to someone they do not know. Do not travel if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, are awaiting a test, or if you need to self-isolate.

Some employees may be affected by public transport limitations. In these circumstances, consider alternative ways of working such as remote or shift-based working, rotation of staff, staggering meal breaks and flexible leave to address any pressures on public transport.

For workplaces in regions at Alert Level 1

Staff are in the workplace. Alert Level 1 does not require physical distancing; workplaces should be operating safely with staff working according to their usual working arrangements.

Adhere to legislative and government requirements. Agencies must adhere to general Health and Safety at Work Act obligations. It will also be important to be aware of the public health advice for Alert Level 1:

  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your GP or Healthline to see if you need a test.
  • Maintain good hygiene – keep up good hand washing practices, cough and sneeze into your elbow, keep surfaces clean.
  • Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and encouraged when you cannot maintain physical distance from people you do not know, for example in supermarkets.
  • Keep track of where you’ve been and who you've seen - workplaces must display the NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster to help visitors keep track of where they’ve been.
  • Keep your distance – even at Alert Level 1 it’s still worthwhile keeping a safe distance from people you don’t know while out and about.

Be prepared. The risk of further cases of COVID-19 remains. Agencies need to ensure their plans enable a quick response should there be any raising of the alert level in the future.

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