02 Mar 2020
Advice for members about the COVID-19 outbreak.
These are the most important things that you can remember and do:
- Keep your distance from other people in public.
- If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
- If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline and get advice about being tested.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, regularly disinfect surfaces.
- If you have been told to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
- Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.
What are we doing?
Our organisers have been working with employers on their pandemic planning, particularly those agencies on the frontline of dealing with the risk of infection. We are continuing to work through issues with government agencies and employers that relate to your safety and your rights, including around redeployment.
If you are experiencing difficulty getting your employer to pay for time you have had to be away from work you can call us on 0508 367 772 or email us at email@example.com
The vaccine program
The Ministry of Health is overseeing and implementing the vaccine program, not individual employers.
It is our clear expectation that the privacy and well-being of vaccine recipients will be respected.
If you want to ask the PSA questions about the vaccine rollout, please contact us through the usual channels.
Covid-19 Vaccine Scams: How to get trustworthy information
There’s a lot of information on social media — it’s overwhelming and hard to know what’s reliable.
Vaccination and employment guidance
- Te Kawa Mataho: COVID-19 Workforce Vaccinations Guidance
- Employment NZ: COVID-19 Vaccination and Employment
- MBIE: Vaccination rollout employment guidance (PDF)
For more information
We recommend going to health.govt.nz if you want to know more.
Be careful not to share information about the vaccine roll-out unless you are certain it is accurate, and approved for sharing by the Ministry of Health.
We recommend familiarizing yourself with the following:
- COVID-19: Vaccines
- COVID-19: Vaccine resources
- COVID-19: Vaccine information for the health workforce
- The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) FAQ
IMAC is a nationwide organisation based at the School of Population Health at The University of Auckland. It provides independent, factual information based on international and New Zealand scientific research about vaccine-preventable diseases the benefits and risks of immunisation
The pandemic is a health and safety issue for many workers. The PSA is communicating with your employers regularly to ensure there are workplace safety controls in place. You are also encouraged to do this through your delegates, Health and Safety reps, and management using mechanisms established in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
Prevention is of course preferable, so follow Ministry of Health guidance for infection control and social isolation, as well as systematic cleaning of surfaces.
If you are concerned your employer is not following appropriate health and safety measures on workplace prevention, travel, social distancing or isolation, contact your site delegates, health and safety reps or your employer. If you require urgent support contact the PSA on 0508 367 772 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you may still have the option to work from home. In order to make sure you stay safe and healthy at home, we have prepared a few suggestions.
1. Stay safe
Make sure you have access to safe working conditions. If you’re working on a computer think about your desk set up and posture. Try and set up somewhere quiet with plenty of natural light and good ventilation.
2. Stay healthy
To maintain your physical health, ensure you get regular short intervals of fresh air, moving and stretching yourself. Just step outside or go for a brief and brisk walk around the block if you are able. Temperatures outside are dropping so make sure you have appropriate heating where necessary. It is important for your physical and mental health to eat healthily and to get enough sleep.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Focusing on the things you can control can help to improve how you feel. A good place to start is the five ways to wellbeing. Answers to frequently asked questions about looking after mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 by the Mental Health Foundation are available here. Further reading including resilience strategies, how to talk to children about the virus, podcasts and more are available here. The Ministry of Health has also compiled information to ensure your and your children’s mental wellbeing.
Under lockdown, it is normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or upset, among a wide range of other emotional reactions. Some practical things you can do include to use a journal to write down how you feel, talk to others or do something creative. Also avoid excessive consumption of media coverage.
3. Have the right equipment
You will also need to have access to all the relevant equipment (such as an office chair and monitors) and IT software you would normally use in your day-to-day working life. If you need access to a programme you don’t have available at home, then talk to your manager. Your employer should pay for wi-fi needed for work if the person doesn’t have internet access at home.
4. Know what is expected
If you’re working remotely it is important to be clear about what work you are expected to carry out, especially if this differs from your usual tasks and duties. Talk to your manager and possibly write down what you are working on and what you will be able to deliver over a certain period of time. Getting agreement will provide you, your manger and your team with certainty.
5. Keep in touch
Stay in touch with your manager and your team. There are lots of different ways you can do this. You may want to think about setting up regular video calls with colleagues. You can also use email, phone and chat groups like. You should also stay in touch with your union delegates or organisers for any help or developments about what is happening.
Keeping in touch is important to ensure you, your colleagues and your manager are informed about each other’s work. It is also important to avoid loneliness and other negative mental health effects of being socially isolated.
6. Maintaining work routines
It can be hard to stick to set hours when working from home due to a more flexible working regime. Domestic distractions, care responsibilities and blurred boundaries between work and time off can be difficult to navigate.
Ideally it is good to stick to your set hours and follow your usual work patterns while working from home as the boundaries between work and time off can become blurred.
However we understand this will be extremely difficult for many parents and caregivers who also have family responsibilities. Communicate with your manager and team members about your situation so you can come to an understanding about work expectations.
Follow your usual working patterns and stick to a routine where possible. Some might find it useful to keep a diary or use an online hours calculator to ensure good discipline around working hours. It is a good idea to proactively communicate your working hours to others in your team.
7. Do not work when you are sick
Whether you have got coronavirus symptoms or another illness, if you’re too ill to work, you’re too ill to work. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in the office or at home – sick leave policies still apply. It helps to keep your calendar updated with any leave you might be taking (sick leave, domestic leave, annual leave etc.). It keeps your team aware of your situation.
8. What to do when you encounter challenges
Challenges when working from home can take different forms. It might be challenging to physically finding a quiet space where you can concentrate, separating care and work responsibilities, dealing with (pre-existing) anxiety or depression or domestic violence. To prevent, mitigate and eliminate challenges it is even more important that we are kind and generous towards each other. Look after your neighbours and check on people at risk regularly.
Those who are at risk or experiencing mental health and violence issues must not hesitate to seek professional help immediately.
Schools and childcare centers are now closed adds additional pressures on many families and parents’ care responsibilities. Information on how parents can maintain resilient and how to communicate with their children is available here.
Specific resources on COVID 19 and family violence can be accessed here. The Family Violence Information Line (0800 456 450) provides self-help information and connects people to services where appropriate. It is available seven days a week, from 9am to 11pm, with an after-hours message redirecting callers in the case of an emergency.
In case you need support with your mental health the following helplines are available
- 1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
- Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP)
- Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
- Samaritans – 0800 726 666
9. Stay in touch with your union
We will be providing regular updates via our website and social media channels. Also stay in touch with your delegate or organiser. We are here to help and to share information. We can and must be union – especially under lockdown.
If you haven't already, we recommend checking that your details are correct on MyPSA.
You can also checkout Prospect UK's short video for advice:
- The Ministry of Health website remains the best source of information about the prevention and management of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Please look at that site if you have questions.
- The NZCTU have set up a page with COVID-19 information for workplace risk and workers' concerns.
- Employment New Zealand provides further detailed information about employment during and after disasters and workplace response to COVID-19.
- WorkSafe NZ provides information on Workplace preparedness for novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
MSD Links for Benefits, Support, and Information
The following information was passed on by the NZCTU
Here are the links we have been sent from MSD about benefits, types of benefits , information and entitlement and applications. This information may change so it will be important so you may wish to check this link regularly to ensure that you have the most recent information. Please note that the section on Redundancy Support is to come as it is under review.
The primary focus with the MSD’s Covid-19 support is to ensure that employers and employees have access to information and support to help them keep employees/stay in employment.
Here is a link to the information about changes to the way MSD are providing services.
Below are the links to information for people in a range of different circumstances.
- General information about not working - https://workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/lost-job/index.html
- Not working because of a health condition or disability (includes no sick leave) - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/lost-job/health-condition.html#null
- Jobseeker Support benefit - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/jobseeker-support.html
- Stand-downs - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/apply/what-is-a-stand-down.html
- Application process for a benefit - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/apply/online-application-process-mymsd.html
- Check what you might get tool - https://check.msd.govt.nz/
Urgent or unexpected costs
- The different costs we can help with and what you can get - https://workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/urgent-costs/index.html
- Food - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/urgent-costs/food.html
- Rent/board costs – Accommodation Supplement - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/accommodation-supplement.html
- Housing costs - https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/live-in-home/housing-costs/index.html
- Redundancy support - Information to come – currently under discussion and review.