A Call for Clarity

Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson has announced details of a 2-week COVID-19 Resurgence Wage Subsidy payment. There is still some confusion among Kiwi businesses, however, regarding who can apply for this resurgence, as well as the original extension.

Questions circulating on local hospitality Facebook groups included whether or not the Wage Subsidy (in general) covered employers or just their employees, and how new businesses could apply if they weren’t able to prove they were down the required 40 percent in revenue.

The Restaurant Association of New Zealand has advised that this payment is available nationally for businesses which are financially impacted by the resurgence of COVID-19 and changes to COVID Alert Levels. The 2-week payment will run from the date the business applies.

“We appreciate and support the extension to the wage subsidy. However, we would have liked to see the subsidy threshold dropped to 30 percent rather than the confirmed 40 percent. We also believe the scheme should have been extended beyond two weeks,” commented Association CEO Marisa Bidois.

Online, cafe and restaurant owners are feeling the same when it comes to proving a loss in revenue.

“They can hardly compare to the previous months either because it's all COVID-impacted. You won't be 40 percent down for the two weeks in August compared to July, because July was already down what it would have been if you were open a year ago. How much further down can you go?” said one Facebook forum member.

“It is clear from speaking to our members that further financial support will be necessary, specific to our industry,” noted Bidois.

The Association has said that it is currently seeking clarification on points regarding applying for both the Wage Subsidy Extension and the Resurgence Wage Subsidy.

“Currently our initial view is that while the Resurgence Wage Subsidy is now an option available to a number of businesses, with many members closed at Level 3, or facing significantly reduced turnover, we recommend that you first assess whether your business is now eligible for the Wage Subsidy Extension, even if it was not before,” explained the Association.

You can apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension up until the 1st of September (your business must have experienced a minimum 40% decline in revenue for a continuous 30 day period).

You can apply for the Resurgence Wage Subsidy until the 3rd of September. According to the Restaurant Association you can’t receive the Resurgence Wage Subsidy if you are already getting other COVID-19 payments like the Wage SubsidyWage Subsidy Extension or the Leave Support Scheme for an employee.

Who can and cannot apply for any part of the Wage Subsidy scheme is still confusing for many restaurant and cafe owners. Some have suggested just applying for everything you think you can get.

“I'm thinking just apply for both extensions and if it has to be paid back then so be it,” commented one cafe owner.