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 State services agencies to comply with the public health and social measures being taken in the fight against COVID-19.

The State services should follow these workforce guidelines during a pandemic. In applying these guidelines, it is important that State services 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.

This guidance is provided to assist agencies with workforce matters as they move alert levels. 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

New Zealand remains at Alert Level 1. On 16 November the Government announced some special requirements to take effect after 11.59pm on Wednesday 18 November:

  • face coverings must be worn on public transport in Auckland
  • face coverings must be worn on all domestic passenger aircraft.

The rest of the country is encouraged to wear a face covering on public transport and when you cannot maintain physical distance from people you do not know.

Everyone is reminded of the importance to record your movements, scan QR codes and continue to maintain good hygiene practices.

For employees who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as close contacts of a COVID-19 case, special leave should be provided while they are self-isolating. For further details see the Alert Level 1 guidelines.

Key principles for 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 or flu symptoms, stay home and call your GP or Healthline to see if you need a test.
  • If you are advised to self-isolate while waiting for a test result, stay home. Do not go to the workplace.
  • Please wear a face covering on public transport, noting this is now mandatory on all domestic flights. Wearing a face covering helps keep you and others safe.
  • 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 to keep track of where they’ve been.
  • Maintain good hygiene – keep up good hand washing practices, cough and sneeze into your elbow, keep surfaces clean.
  • 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.

Continue to develop your flexible working policies. At Alert Level 1 workplaces are operating normally within health and safety requirements. Arrangements agencies had in place to support staff working from home at Alert Levels 3 and 4 were directly linked to the requirements of the COVID-19 response. This is not the same as flexible working.

Te Kawa Mataaho has published guidance and resources on flexible work by default as part of the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan. The guidance and resources support agencies to establish or refresh flexible work policies that fit their specific context. They cover all forms of flexible working including alternative start and finish times, part-time work, as well as remote working.

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