Skip To Content Skip To Menu

Covid 19 Hero

Covid-19 Information for Members

Our thoughts are with our members, their families and their staff at this difficult and challenging time.

The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak is unprecedented and changing hour by hour. This page covers an overview of the latest updates sent by email plus Alert Level 4 information and advice for MTA members. 

We’ve created an Alert Level 3 section for you here >> https://www.mta.org.nz/covid-level3 plus an Alert Level 2 page >>

Latest Updates

Update 29 May 2020

Employee behaviour

Many people are currently struggling with anxiety caused by worries about coming out of lockdown, concerns about the virus or financial stress.

Anxiety can manifest in different ways. People may be quick to anger, defensive about perceived criticisms, or they may get quieter and withdrawn and have increased sick days.

If you notice that an employee has started acting differently, check in with them to see how they are doing.

You may want to remind them they have access to free EAP sessions. EAP is a nationwide counselling service and MTA covers the cost for members and their employees. EAP can help with coping strategies, or simply provide a trained ear to listen.

Appointments can be set up by employees directly, they simply call 0800 327 669 and say the work for an MTA member.

Resuming MTA training & events

With all the stats clearly indicating New Zealand has beaten Covid-19, at MTA we’re keen to keep moving towards some version of “normal” service to members.

That includes getting the MTA face-to-face training and events programme up and running again. Obviously in looking at this, ensuring your safety is our priority.

We’re keen to know how members feel about the idea.

If you were confident that all public health guidelines around physical distancing, hygiene standards, agreed maximum numbers and record keeping were being observed, would you be comfortable attending an MTA face-to-face training course or event?

Just click here to email Geordie Cassin and put a Yes or No in the subject line.

Gift Voucher redemption reminder

We’re still getting a few calls from members about the redemption process for Gift Vouchers now we’re at Alert Level 2.

Just to confirm, MTA returned to its BAU process for redemptions on 20 May.

From that date:

  • We stopped processing emails with scanned remittances.
  • Members could resume couriering physical Gift Vouchers and redemption slips to MTA National Office.

Vouchers claimed during lockdown

As of today, we’ve received back 85% of the Gift Vouchers claimed during lockdown. That’s really great work. Thanks to all the members who’ve returned theirs so far.

If you do still have lockdown vouchers to return, please get them to us as soon as you can. Ideally, we’d like these returned in a separate courier bag to your new redemptions. However, you can include in one bag as long as new and lockdown redemptions are clearly marked and separated.

Along with the vouchers you should also include:

  • The scanned redemption slip that had previously been emailed into MTA.
  • A copy of the email that was sent to finance@mta.org.nz for payment.

If you have any questions about the above, please contact Troy Cameron in the Gift Voucher Redemption Office on 04 381-8831.

Protecting yourself from payment fraud

MTA business partner Crombie Lockwood has shared a video about an Auckland panel beater who lost three weeks’ worth of invoice payments after a cyber-attack.

Chris Bull from Crombie Lockwood explains what happened >>

Don’t forget to email mta@crombielockwood.co.nz if you would like to know more about protecting your business from this growing risk.

Special website offer for MTA members from OurAuto

A reminder that OurAuto Digitalis currently running a special website offer exclusively for MTA members.

Having a strong digital presence is more important than ever before. The lockdown has sparked increasing reliance on online channels, for shopping and to identify and 'suss out' service providers.

Updated 27 May 2020

WoF and CoF expiry dates

In early April the Government announced that due to Covid-19, all WoFs expiring from 1 January 2020 would be pushed out; up to 10 October 2020.

Many members, at the time of the announcement and subsequently, have expressed concern regarding the impact on safety and workflows because of this decision. We have taken these concerns to NZTA officials on several occasions.

MTA recently met again with NZTA, along with AA, VTNZ and VINZ, to discuss these expiry dates and the need for more clarity.

A key outcome of this meeting is that NZTA will soon recommend the Government confirm:

  • A specific end-date to the extension of WoF and CoF expirations, especially those from the Covid-19 lockdown, and
  • A “return to normal” – that is, when the label expiry date is again the actual expiry date.

We hope these decisions will be made in the very near future and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear more.

Parts payment for collision repairers

IAG has confirmed to MTA that they are able to support collision repairers by paying for the parts directly, to help support cashflow and provide confidence of payment to the parts suppliers during these uncertain times.

IAG also recognises that the parts margin is important to collision repairers, so that will not be affected in any way.   If you wish to take up this offer from IAG, please contact them directly through your normal channels.

Applications for Covid-19 Small Business Cash Flow Loans close soon

A reminder that loans of up to $100,000 are still available for eligible businesses to help with cash flow.

Nearly $1 billion in support has already gone out to small businesses, including contractors and self-employed.

The loans are administered by IRD and applications close 12 June.

Find out if you're eligible for the Small Business Cash Flow Loan Scheme and how to apply >>   Pandemic drives shift to digital tools

Respected American automotive website 'Automotive News' published an article this week noting the Coronavirus pandemic has helped move many dealers toward use of digital tools to promote and sell vehicles.

Is this consistent with your own experience? We’d love to hear.

Contact Tony Everett, Sector Manager – Dealers. Phone 027 457 4340 or tony.everett@mta.org.nz.

Updated 26 May 2020

Pathway for a move to Alert Level 1

At Monday’s Covid-19 media conference, the Prime Minister confirmed the Government wants the country to move as quickly and as safely as possible to Alert Level 1.

She set out the following high-level pathway for a Level 1 decision:

  • 8 June - Cabinet will again review the settings of Alert Level 2.
  • No later than 22 June - Cabinet will consider a move to Alert Level 1.

As always, MTA will be monitoring developments closely and making sure you have all the information on available support for businesses, and what you need to do to operate safely.

Updated 14 May 2020

Budget 2020

The Government has today announced its 2020 Budget. The aim of the new Budget is to assist New Zealand to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the effect of the Alert Level 4 lockdown over April 2020. 

MTA members will be interested in the following elements of the Budget: 

Extension of the wage subsidy ($3.2bn) 

  • Eight-week extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme 
  • Same level of payment as earlier package  
    • $585.80 for those working 20+ hours per week; $350 for those working less than 20 hours per week 
  • Eligible businesses are those that have suffered or expect to suffer revenue loss of at least 50% for the 30 days prior to applying (compared to a similar period in the previous year) 
  • Applications can be made from 10 June 
  • Application period is open for 12 weeks 
  • Read more about the Wage Subsidy Extension >> 

The extension of the wage subsidy is welcome, but we know that members are still keen for more support targeted at other core costs, such as commercial rents and insurance costs. We will continue to seek responses from Government in these areas. 

Trades and Apprentice training package ($1.6bn) 

  • Support for both apprentices seeking training and the businesses that train them 
  • $320m for free trades training in critical industries 
  • $412m for employers to retain and keep training their apprentices 
  • $50m for a Maori Apprenticeships Fund 
  • $32m increased funding for Trades Academies  
  • $19m for group training schemes to retain apprentices 

MTA will also be engaging with the Education Minister to ensure that the automotive sector sees its fair share of support for apprentices and training. There are no details yet about how the trades training support will be delivered. We will keep members informed as more information comes to hand. 

Commerce Commission funding increase

  • Extra funding of $10.1m per year for three years to enable the Commerce Commission to focus on the potential impacts of Covid-19 on competition in markets, consumers and regulated industries.

MTA has long-called on the Commission to increase its enforcement activities to crack down on backyard repairers and roadside sellers who do not comply with all the requirements that MTA members do. We will seek to engage with the Commission on how it examines competition in the marketplace.  

E-commerce support 

  • $10m available to support businesses to improve or introduce e-commerce capabilities 

Covid-19 has brought home the increasing importance of e-commerce for small businesses. This fund will support small businesses to improve their e-commerce service offerings and will include incentives/grants to encourage e-commerce adoption. There will also be further support for business advice, e-invoicing, Business Connect, and the Better For Business programme. 

You can see more on today’s Budget package here >>

Covid-19 & MTA Members

Covid-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a type of Coronavirus.

Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

As at 12 noon on 26 March 2020 there had been 466,836 confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide and over 21,000 deaths.

You can keep up with what’s happening globally here >>

NZ lockdown - what should you do?

Our recommendation to all MTA members is to shut your business.

Covid-19 is a killer. Globally thousands of people have already died. As a country we cannot take this seriously enough.

For that reason, MTA’s strong recommendation to our members is to close your business for the period of the lockdown.

Even if you are an essential service provider or are supporting one, think about whether it is the right thing for you and your staff. You don’t have to open, and our advice is not to.

If you do decide to open

If you are providing an essential service or supporting one and do decide to open, MTA will continue to support you – more on this below.

If you are open, you will need to think about how you operate during this period.

You must have in place working conditions that protect you, your staff and any customers that come to the business. This includes processes for social distancing and safe (clean) handling of keys, parts, and touching surfaces.

Also, are reduced hours an option? Can you provide services on an “on-demand” basis (e.g “Call us and we’ll arrange something)?

If you do decide to open, be aware that your staff will need some form of identification or official letter from the business to confirm they are travelling for an essential service.

What is an essential service?

MTA members identified as 'essential' are:

  • Service stations.
  • Vehicle recovery operators.
  • Any member providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes, such as vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services. Repair activity is limited to supporting essential services only.

If you’re not providing any of those services you should be closed.

Note: Even if you are deemed to be an essential service or are supporting one, the decision to stay open still rests with you.

You can see the latest list of essential services here >>

If you are still unsure if your business is an essential service, based on the information publicly provided, please get in touch with MBIE via 0508 377 388 or essential@mbie.govt.nz

Social distancing practices

If you are continuing to operate, you will be expected to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Remember to:

  • Take appropriate hygiene measures ensuring staff and customers have the ability to wash and dry their hands thoroughly, and suitable waste receptacles are available.
  • Maintain strict cleaning procedures in your business, with frequent cleaning, sanitising, and waste disposal.
  • Ensure physical distancing of at least two metres.
  • Have appropriate signage in prominent areas (such as entrances, point of sale, bathrooms) outlining hand-washing guidance and physical distancing guidance.
  • Ensure all of your staff are aware of the Ministry of Health guidance and your policies and procedures.

A range of tools and resources for businesses, including posters and factsheets, are available here >>

MBIE process for requesting personal protective equipment

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has created a portal where requests for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for non-health essential services can be lodged.

Before lodging a request, businesses are asked to ensure they are familiar with the Ministry of Health (MoH) advice on the use and need for PPE for non-health essential workers, including a summary poster of requirements. Note: you may need to provide reasons why you consider health PPE is needed for your business. 

The application portal is located here >>

Each company registers individually via the portal and requests the PPE they require. For those who have already provided MBIE with information on their company’s PPE requirements, you will still need lodge a request via this portal.

Registering is not a guarantee of supply; you should continue to pursue your own lines of supply where possible.   For more information, please see www.health.govt.nz/ppe or send an email >>

Contact register

If you do decide to open you should be keeping a record of all people that have entered your premises or that you have carried out work for. This will assist authorities in tracking people should your business be exposed to Covid-19.

MTA has developed a Contact register to assist with this. 

Please remember your obligations under the Privacy Act 1993 when collecting and holding personal information.

Government Support for Businesses & Employees

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

Updated 13 May 2020

A reminder that applications for this scheme, introduced to support businesses and organisations struggling because of loss of actual or predicted revenue as a result of Covid-19, have now opened.

Find out more about the scheme >> Note: applying businesses must have 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees.

Find out more about applying >>

Previous information:

Small businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be able to get interest-free and low-interest loans of up to $100,000, under a new relief scheme announced by the Government today.

What is it and how does it work?

  • Government will provide interest-free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by Covid-19
  • The loan is interest-free if paid back within a year, otherwise the interest rate will be 3% for a maximum term of five years
  • Repayments are not required for the first two years.

Eligibility

  • Available to businesses employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees
  • Same as for the Wage Subsidy Scheme
  • Businesses will also have to declare that they are a viable business, they will use the money for core business operating costs and enter into a legally-binding loan contract.

How do you apply and from when?

  • Administered by Inland Revenue (IRD)
  • Applications open from 12 May 2020, and will pay out very shortly thereafter.

How much? $10,000 to every firm PLUS $1,800 per equivalent full-time employee up to $100,000. View table here >>

New Government Support Package for SMEs

On the 15th April, the Government announced a new support package for small and medium-sized businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new measures include:

  • $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme (estimated cost over the next two years)
  • $60 million estimated annual savings to business each year from changes to the tax loss continuity rules
  • $25 million in the next 12 months for further business consultancy support
  • Greater flexibility for affected businesses to meet their tax obligations
  • Measures to support commercial tenants and landlords.

The rent measures involve extending the timeframes required before landlords can cancel leases and mortgagees can exercise their rights to sale or repossession.

A Government factsheet is available here giving more detail on the package.

Subsidies

The Government has implemented a package of measures to support businesses and employees through the economic impacts of Covid-19.

The package includes wage subsidies and business cashflow measures to assist businesses. 

Sick leave subsidy

From 27 March, the Leave Payment Scheme has been absorbed into the Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

We are waiting on further information from the Government regarding a possible new policy supporting essential service workers taking sick leave.  

Wage subsidies

If your business is significantly impacted by Covid-19 and you may lose employees as a result, the Government has made wage subsidies available. 

Who is eligible? 

All New Zealand employers, contractors, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities and incorporated societies are eligible to apply for a wage subsidy for their staff.

As of Monday 23 March, there is no cap on wage subsidies that can be paid to employers affected by Covid-19 and as of 27 March, the Government has made changes to the wage subsidy scheme. 

Key points for MTA members to be aware of are as follows:

  • Employers using the wage subsidy are expected to make “best efforts” to retain employees and pay them at least 80% of their normal income. 
  • Where this is not possible, the Government expects that, at a minimum, employers pass on the full value (less taxes) of the subsidy to employees (unless the employee is ordinarily paid less than these amounts) and retain employees for the duration of the subsidy.
  • Employers should be taking active steps to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on your business. This includes (but are not limited to) engaging with your bank, drawing on your cash reserves as appropriate or making an insurance claim.
  • There is a new declaration which needs to be made at the time of applying for the wage subsidy. You can read it here >> 

The most important thing to be aware of is the wage subsidy scheme does not overide employers’ legal obligations:

  • You cannot make any changes to obligations under any employment agreement without the written consent of the employee. Employers will be required to consult and reach agreement with employees should they wish to reduce the working hours during this trying time. This includes changes to rates of pay, hours of work and leave entitlement.
  • Employers will be required to pay employees 100% of normal wages unless there is an agreement reached between employers and employees to pay less. You will need to formalise in writing this mutually-agreed reduction in hours after discussing with the employee. Available here is a letter template to give/email to them. Employees can agree via email if they are not able to print, sign and scan the letter.  
  • Employers cannot unlawfully make or require any employees named in your subsidy application to use their leave entitlements for the period you receive the subsidy.
  • If the wages or salary of an employee named in your application was already below the amount of the subsidy (i.e. a part timer), pay the employee their normal wage. 

Note: You need to let the employee know you will be applying for the subsidy and get their consent to provide their info to MSD and other agencies involved in the process.

How much is it?

  • Full-time employees (working 20 or more hours a week) - $585 a week
  • Part-time employees (working less than 20 hours a week) - $350 a week

The wage subsidies will be paid in a lump sum. 

How long does the subsidy last?

The wage subsidy scheme ends in June 2020.

What if my employee is sick for a different reason?

You will need to pay them sick leave out of their normal sick leave entitlement.

How do I apply for the wage subsidy?

The application forms are on the Ministry of Social Development's (MSD) website >>

You must be able to show you have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue for any month when compared with the same month last year for the period between January 2020 and June 2020, and that decline is related to Covid-19.

You will need to sign a declaration form that shows you have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 (i.e. worked with your accountant or financial advisor).

You will need to officially declare that you will make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.

MSD will try to get payments to employers within five working days of receiving the information but there may be a delay if there are a lot of applications. If you have questions about the payments, the Ministry has a phone number you can call - 0800 40 80 40.

Employees cannot apply for this payment; their employer must apply for it on their behalf and you must pass this full payment onto your employee.

You will need to supply details including your IRD number, the employee's IRD number and their contact details. You will need to obtain the employee's permission to give their personal information to MSD and other agencies that are involved with the wage subsidies. 

For further information on wage subsidies, read through the Government fact sheets. If you still have any questions, please call MTA HR on 0800 00 11 44.

Leave subsidy calculator

We have developed a subsidy leave table for members to determine whether they are eligible for the subsidy.

Note: You need to let the employee know you will be applying for the subsidy and get their consent to provide their info to MSD and other agencies involved in the process.

Forecast your cash flow

Understanding your financial situation is important in times of uncertainty. It can also help you have better conversations with your bank or advisor.

MBIE’s business.govt.nz website has developed an easy to use forecasting tool >>

Enter your financial position and the changes you expect, and the tool will help you forecast your cash flow.

Covid-19 Business Advisory Fund

The Government established the Covid-19 Business Advisory Fund to enable businesses to access expert advice and support through the Regional Business Partner (RBP) Network during the pandemic.

Business owners can access up to $5000 excl. GST per business from the Fund.

This funding can be used with a range of registered providers for a variety of registered services depending on business needs. It is 100% funding; no co-funding is required.

RBP Growth Advisors will work with businesses to assess priority needs and provide access to funding for use with registered Service Providers. Only RBP Growth Advisors can allocate funding.   Find out more about the Fund and the eligibility criteria here >>

Register here >>

Business Cashflow & Tax Measure Support

The support for business cashflow and tax measures covers four main categories:

  • Reintroduction of depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings.
  • Immediate deductions for low value assets.
  • Increasing the threshold for when Provisional Tax applies.
  • Writing off interest on some late payment of tax. 

Who is eligible?

All sectors and all regions are eligible for these changes. Fact sheets covering all of these can be found here >>

For illustration purposes, if you have a 31 March balance date for your tax, then the 2020-21 tax year is for the period 1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021.

What are the Depreciation changes?

The Government will permanently reintroduce depreciation (at 2% Diminishing Value) on commercial and industrial buildings for the property owners. This will take affect from the 2020-21 tax year. If you own a property of this type, you will have the ability to reduce your provisional tax payments for the 2020-21 tax year. If you own your own commercial and or industrial property, then this support will be available to you.

Am I eligible?

If you are eligible, the benefit will have the impact of reducing your tax bill for the year, from 2020-21, and may mean that you don't have to pay as much in Provisional Tax in advance for that year.

Immediate deductions for low value assets

The Government will increase the immediate deduction threshold from $500 to $5,000 for the 2020-21 tax year. It will remain at $500 for the 2019-20 tax year. The threshold will be permanently increased to $1,000 from the 2021-22 tax year onwards. This means that cost of low value assets below these thresholds can be expensed in the year they are incurred, rather than being subject to depreciation and spread over a number of years. You don't have to apply for this. The increased deduction will be available as part of normal tax filing processes.

Am I eligible?

If you are eligible, the benefit will have the impact of reducing your tax bill for the year, from 2020-21, and may mean that you don't have to pay as much in Provisional Tax in advance for that year. You do not have to apply for this, and the increased deduction will be available as part of normal tax filing processes. 

Increasing the threshold for when Provisional Tax applies

The Government will permanently increase the threshold for having to pay Provisional Tax from $2,500 to $5,000 from the 2020-21 tax year onwards.

Am I eligible?

If you are eligible, the benefit will have the impact of removing the need for you to pay Provisional Tax for the 2020-21 tax year and beyond, should your Income Tax Liability for the 2020-21 tax year or subsequent tax years be $5,000 or below which should improve your cashflow throughout the year.

It is not yet clear as to how you apply for this.

Writing off interest on some late payment of tax

The Commissioner of Inland Revenue will have the power to waive interest on late tax payments for the taxpayers whose ability to pay their tax on time was significantly adversely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Use of Money Interest (UOMI) is routinely charged on late payments.

Am I eligible?

If you are eligible, the relief will apply to all tax payments (provisional, PAYE and GST) due on or after 14 February 2020. To be eligible, businesses and individuals will need to demonstrate that their inability to pay their tax is directly related to being significantly adversely impacted by Covid-19. The Government will release further details in the coming days on the eligibility criteria.

At this stage the support is expected to be in place for the next two years.

NOTE: The above information on the Government’s Support Package is a summary of information publicly available at www.beehive.govt.nz and other agency websites and is not formal tax, financial, human resources or legal advice. This summary is intended to provide general information to MTA members and MTA cannot be held liable for any reliance on this information. For all advice on the application of these provisions to your specific circumstances you must consult your own professional advisors.

Leasing & Rental Arrangements

With many members unable to access their business premises due to the lockdown, we’ve been fielding a lot of enquiries regarding their leasing and rental arrangements.

In response we’ve developed a factsheet which includes an easy to follow flowchart to help you determine what action you need to take.

Covid-19 Related HR FAQs

Apart from questions relating to the Government’s Wage Subsidy and Sick Leave Support, here are other topics the MTA HR team have covered with members in recent days. 

Please note that this information is based on current employment law and Government advice but is subject to change as the Government is revising information on a regular basis. We will update the information if things change, so we recommend checking back regularly or calling MTA HR if you are unsure. 

Q: How can the MTA help me? A: We can provide advice around issues relating to employee questions and employer obligations. Call MTA HR (0800 00 11 44) or email hr@mta.org.nz. Some people may be experiencing anxiety around the virus or its impact. MTA members, your family, your staff and their families, can all access free counselling through EAP. This support can be accessed by calling 0800 327 669 and letting them know you are an MTA member, or work for, an MTA member. MTA is also looking at what financial help we may be able to provide to member businesses. We’ll let you know more about this later as well.

Q: Do I have any Health and Safety obligations?   A: Yes. You have an obligation under the Health and Safety Act to provide a safe working environment and this includes putting appropriate measures in place to manage infectious disease. Worksafe expects all businesses to follow the latest advice from the Ministry of Health (including allowing self-isolation if recommended) and to promote good hygiene practises at work. If you are doing essential services work and have employees working on site, practical options would include (but are not limited to):

  • Making sure employees have easy access to adequate facilities for washing hands with soap and water and paper towels for effective drying of hands.
  • Encouraging/asking employees to follow good hand washing techniques (The Ministry of Health has posters available to download and print).
  • Providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser and disinfectant / disinfectant wipes to use on door handles and customer areas.
  • Providing disposable gloves (educate on best practice when using).
  • Varying shift start and finish times to minimise times employees are together.
  • Not having meetings, instead email or text information staff need to know.
  • Have employees keep a distance of at least one metre from each other.
  • Consider face masks but educate staff on correct usage and be aware masks have limitations on their effectiveness.
  • When working on a customer’s vehicle or machinery, wipe down the surfaces that are regularly touched, ie handles, steering wheels, etc.
  • If moving a vehicle, keep the windows open to enable air flow through the vehicle.

You’ll need to check with your insurer, but the advice we’ve had from MTA’s member insurer is generally this type of event is not one business insurance policies can respond to. Insurers usually have a standard exclusion in the policy regarding infectious diseases but check with your own insurer about your specific policy.  

You may be entitled to tax relief if your business has been impacted – check out the IRD website for further info.

Q: Can I make employees go home if they are sick? And do I have to pay them? A: If you have good reason to believe the employee is sick and presents a risk to others, you do have obligations under the Health and Safety Act and can ask them to stay at home. 

Q: I am a service station, but have some employees refusing to work during the Level 4 lockdown. What do I do?   A: During the Level 4 lockdown, an employee is required to be at work as usual if the employer is categorised as an essential service and is operating. Should they refuse, they are not entitled to be paid. They may request annual leave but it is your decision whether to approve that request.

A disciplinary investigation/process is also a possibility but is not encouraged unless clearly warranted and following proper process.   

Exceptions to the above would include if they:

  • are unwell or need to care for a dependent who is unwell
  • show signs of the virus, and/or may have been exposed
  • are at greater risk for medical reasons
  • have some other valid reason for not being at work.

Before you make any decisions, we recommend you talk with the employee to find out more about why specifically they do not wish to work.     

This is because under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, an employee can refuse work if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that carrying out work would expose the employee (or any other person) to a serious risk to the employee’s or another person’s health or safety arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard. 

While this could include Covid-19, the key word is “reasonable”. These situations need to be looked at on a “case by case” basis, if you have taken all reasonably practical steps to meet your Health and Safety obligations and the employee is not in a higher risk category, it is unlikely that a refusal to work because of a generalised fear of contracting the virus could be considered reasonable.

But, if the employee has valid reasons for being concerned, and you can reasonably accommodate them staying at home, then you would need good reason to say no.      

Contact MTA HR for further advice.  

Q: I have agreed to an employee not working because they have an underlying condition; how do I pay them? Is it taken off annual leave, or do I pay them as normal using wage subsidies?    A: Pay them as if they were otherwise working, unless something else has been agreed to (for example, agreed annual leave). If applicable, the wage subsidy may be used to assist. 

There may also be a Covid-19 leave payment available to the employee if their underlying condition puts them at higher risk and they are not working (which appears may still be available even if the wage subsidy has also been claimed by the employer, although this is not totally clear at this point). 

Contact MTA HR for further advice.  

Q: If people refuse to come in and I tell them they have the option of annual leave or unpaid leave can they claim they are disadvantaged?   A: At this stage we do not consider they could claim disadvantage successfully, without providing more information. For example, if the employee claiming disadvantage had a valid reason for not working and you have not addressed this fairly then they may be successful. 

However, this could change in the future depending on future decisions by the Government or the progression of the virus.

You may also want to have a conversation with your employees and see who is willing and able to work and base your rosters off that.  

Contact MTA HR for further advice.  

Q: I am a service station and have reduced my opening hours. Do I have to consult with employees about this change in their hours of work?    A: Depending on employment agreement wording, you can only change employee hours of work (and so wages) by agreement. Be upfront and advise that you are only considering these measures as an alternative to potential job losses further on and seek their agreement.

They also need to be told they can seek independent advice before deciding whether to agree.

You will need to confirm all this in a letter to your employee/s. We have a letter here for this purpose.  

What happens if a staff member tests positive for Covid-19?

The chances of a positive test result are low at the current time.

In the event an employee tests positive, the Ministry of Health has information about what you should do. Your local Public Health unit will also be in contact with you to discuss the situation in more detail.

You will have to close off and deep clean the areas the employee spent time in.

You may also be asked to close your business temporarily, but closure would depend on what measures the business put in place to mitigate the Covid-19 risk and if those measures are still active and effective.

We recommend maintaining excellent hygiene and sanitation standards as well as physical distancing, as this will help reduce the likelihood of your business having to temporarily close.

If an employee has been tested for Covid-19, you are allowed to ask for confirmation that the test was negative before allowing them to return to the workplace.

If You Need to Consider Restructuring

We know the significant impact Covid-19 has already had on businesses across New Zealand, with employers in many sectors needing to consider restructuring and redundancies.   

If you are in the unfortunate situation of needing to consider a restructure of your business that may include redundancies, please be aware that you need to undertake a fair consultation process. You cannot just “lay someone off”.

If you do not follow a consultation process, you are putting yourself at risk of future personal grievance claims that could cost you money.

There isn’t a 'one size fits all' approach for restructure and redundancy, and the wage subsidy adds further risk and complexity, so please seek advice if you are considering this.

Contact the MTA HR team for support by calling 0800 00 11 44 or emailing hr@mta.org.nz.

Specific advice by sector

Keep in mind that the reason for the lockdown is to reduce contact between people and to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Stretching the definition of “essential for life” undermines the purpose of COVID-19 alert level 4 and puts more lives at risk.

Service Stations

While service stations are considered an “essential service” and you can open, you don’t have to!

Our advice to all MTA members is to close. Covid-19 is a killer and we need to stop it in its tracks. It’s more important to save lives than open your business and potentially place yourself, your staff and your customers at risk.

In deciding what to do, we encourage you to think about:

  • The cost of closing versus the ongoing drain of fuel on working capital when sales are dramatically lower than during BAU times.
  • The safety of yourself and your team.

Nonetheless, we understand some of you will choose to open to support your community and other essential services in your area.

If you DO decide to stay open:

  • Think about changing the times you are open e.g. a couple of hours each day for just some days of the week.
  • Consider if there’s an opportunity to work with other local servos to roster when you’re open? There’s no point having everyone open when business sales levels are so desperately low. [Is that something we can help with, as no doubt you will have a million other things to do? Email Ian Baggott, Sector Manager – Energy and Environment]
  • Recognising that fuel sales volumes are well down on normal volumes, make sure you talk to your fuel supplier about the option to amend normal fuel delivery schedules or if they will extend any payment periods.
  • Remember, service stations can sell food (such as pies), which are supplied to service stations in sealed packaging but are heated on-site.
  • Selling coffee is not considered an essential service.
  • Service stations do not have to open their toilets to the general public during the lockdown. Who can access these toilets during this period is an operational matter for fuel retailers to decide.
  • We would encourage service station operators to consider making their toilets available to all persons with letters of authorisation from essential service providers.

Repairers

The Essential Services list does include vehicle repair, but only for “Any entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes (e.g. vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services)”.

The Government has defined “keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes” as follows:

Maintenance services – all modes 

Any workers involved in the provision of essential maintenance and safety services e.g.:

  • Maintenance and engineering staff
  • Vehicle recovery and assistance services
  • Vehicle repairers, inspectors, certifiers, mechanics and vehicle part providers (however, the services able to be provided must be restricted to work to address immediate and short-term risks to human safety, e.g. essential tyre replacement - routine servicing is not included).

Essential purposes can also include private travel for the purposes of grocery shopping, seeking healthcare, shared custody arrangements, or going to work for an essential service.

The Ministry of Transport has confirmed: 

  • You can operate your repair business (on demand) to repair vehicles for any person who is in acute need of vehicle recovery and repair services while they are undertaking permitted essential private travel (i.e. someone who gets caught short on the way to or from and essential activity; e.g. the shops or healthcare).
  • You cannot just rock into the workshop to keep working on vehicles.
  • Work on vehicles should only take an hour or two at the most. Anything more than this would be deemed as extensive work and out of scope of the current requirements.
  • You cannot operate on a “business as usual” basis and open your workshop to keep working on vehicles while “waiting” for an essential work request to come in.

If you must open, we recommend operating an “on call” system, where customers involved in essential work purposes can contact you and request work.

  • At no stage should people be at work waiting for jobs to roll in. 
  • Let your customers know via email, Facebook posts, answer phone messages or a sign in the window, that you are available to work on vehicles to keep them operational for essential work purposes only.
  • If you are working on a vehicle that is involved in an essential service, you should keep the workshop doors shut (subject to Health & Safety needs). This should avoid any confrontations or accusations.
  • You may also want to roster staff on for specific times, maybe one staff member covers mornings and another afternoons. 

Work to address immediate and short-term risks to human safety may be as follows:

  • Replacement of tyres
  • Puncture repairs 
  • Brake repairs
  • Steering or suspension repairs
  • Repairs to lights or warning devices
  • Replacement of seatbelts or repairs to seats.

Remember that health and safety is still paramount and as a PCBU it is still your responsibility to ensure the safety of any staff.

Collision repairers

MTA believes you will be covered under this if you are repairing an emergency service vehicle (fire, ambulance or police) or responding to an emergency call for service from a member of the public (vehicle recovery and repairs to return the vehicle to safe operation). 

Parts supply

Parts suppliers are considered part of the automotive supply chain so can continue to operate. 

Repco is still operating via their phone lines or on-line ordering. There may be some delays getting parts to you, but they will do their best. 

Check with your usual supplier to see if they are operating.

Testing stations 

Some vehicle testing stations are opening for inspection of essential vehicles only, and appointments must be made. 

If you do to work on a vehicle, then you should apply the following actions to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

  • Ask customers what essential service they work in before taking any bookings.
  • Ask customers if they are suffering from any of the Covid-19 symptoms. If they are, don’t work on the vehicle. 
  • Customers to park vehicles and leave keys in ignition and walk away before staff handle vehicles. 
  • Ideally all staff should be wearing gloves when handling keys, touching vehicles etc.
  • Door handles, steering wheels, seatbelts, park brake and gear levers to be wiped down before and after driving vehicle.
  • Keep windows open when moving the vehicle to allow for fresh air flow.
  • Keys to be wiped down.
  • Always ensure social distancing space of two meters. 

And for your premises:

  • Wash floors daily with a strong disinfectant.
  • Door handles, bench tops, phones, keyboards etc. to be wiped down regularly.
  • Close shared tea and coffee making facilities.  
  • No customers to wait onsite for jobs to be completed. 
  • Tools and shared equipment (oil containers, oil drains etc.) to be cleaned after use.

Warrant of Fitness (WoF) and Certification of Fitness (CoF)

The Government passed emergency legislation to push out the expiry dates for WoFs, CoFs, regos and licences up to 10 October 2020. A key reason for doing this is to help smooth the expected inspection backlog for our industry – about 1.4 million WoFs and CoFs alone – when we come out of Covid-19 lockdown.

The change covers the following:

  • WoFs and CoFs, driver licences, and vehicle certifications issued under the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule that expired on or after 1 January 2020.
  • Endorsements (including drivers of passenger services and dangerous good endorsements held by some truck drivers) that expired on or after 1 March 2020.
  • It also provides a temporary suspension of the requirement to have a current vehicle licence (rego), if the vehicle licence expired on or after 1 January 2020.

We’re already working with NZTA to set these expiry dates which will be up to 10 October 2020 (six months). Note: this does not mean all affected WoFs, CoFs etc will be due on 10 October as has been misreported by the media today.  We expect a range of extension dates to be granted depending on the original expiry date, to allow people enough time to have their vehicles repaired and inspected, so that in six months’ time everyone has caught up.

For those vehicles currently being used as essential services, NZTA encourages operators to make use of the testing centres that are open (these are approved as essential services), to help services continue to run safely.   This does not apply to revoked or suspended documents, NZTA can continue to revoke or suspend for safety reasons during this period.   NZTA's Q&A web page has been updated with this information.

MTA will work on messaging to ensure the public don’t wait until the last minute to get their vehicles inspected, as well as working with NZTA to minimise any impact on members.

Personal and private vehicles: WoF requirements 

Obtaining a new WoF is not regarded as an essential trip during Alert Level 4. 

  • Members of the public should not travel for this purpose, and 
  • businesses should not provide WoF services to the general public who are not essential workers. 

Essential maintenance and repairs can be provided in order to ensure that a private vehicle remains safe and operational when used for essential purposes. 

Essential services: WoF/CoF requirements 

Obtaining a WoF/CoF is regarded as an essential trip for vehicles involved in essential services, and their supply chains, during Alert Level 4.  If driving an essential service vehicle without a current WoF/CoF, operators and drivers continue to have responsibilities to ensure the vehicle is safe for operating.  Repairs needed to make a vehicle safe to carry out an essential service, are themselves an essential service and can be commissioned and carried out. 

28-day WoF recheck period

When we went to Level 2 the clock started again on the 28-day WoF recheck period.

If a vehicle had seven days left for a recheck when the clock stopped on 23 March 2020, then the customer will have seven days to present the vehicle for a re-check starting the first day of Level 2.

NZTA have developed a recheck calendar to assist inspectors with determining the new expiry date of the recheck period.  

Delivery of WoF labels

NZTA has advised that members should allow three to five days for delivery of WoF labels due to the courier network capacity being stretched. 

Please ensure that you re-order your labels well in advance of running out of stock.

Dealers

You are only able to sell a vehicle to essential service providers. You can see the list of essential services here. The definitions are being frequently refined and expanded as new situations arise.

If you do open to make a sale to an essential service provider, you will need to record the transaction in writing so a ‘paper trail’ exists if required. This would include a declaration from the prospective customer as to why they think they qualify as an essential service provider.  

You must also apply your own scrutiny so that you are comfortable they meet the definition.

You must manage the delivery/handover process very carefully:

  • Clean and wipe down the vehicle before delivery.
  • All staff should be wearing gloves when handling keys, touching vehicles etc.
  • Door handles, steering wheels, seatbelts, park brake and gear levers to be wiped down before and after driving vehicle
  • Keys to be wiped down.
  • Always ensure social distancing space of two meters. 
  • Parts supply

Parts suppliers are considered part of the automotive supply chain so can continue to operate. 

Repco is still operating via their phone lines or on-line ordering. There may be some delays getting parts to you, but they will do their best. 

MTA Services & Support

The MTA Head Office is now closed, but we’re still available to support you. 

Staff will still be working from home, so you’ll still be able to access our services.

You can call us on 0800 00 11 44 or email us at mta@mta.org.nz.

Gift Cards and Vouchers

At this stage the MTA Gift Team will maintain a reduced service, to support entities deemed to be “essential services” (e.g. service stations, government agencies such as Oranga Tamariki and Work and Income and DHBs). 

We won’t be able to guarantee one-day turnaround at present, but if your business is an essential service, or supporting one, and you have chosen to stay open, we can still process your orders. 

Gift Voucher Redemption

MTA will continue to redeem Gift Vouchers and pay out to members on Mondays as per normal.But with the closure of MTA Head Office we do need to change the process slightly. Until the current Alert level is reduced, can you please:

  1. Cut the corner off your Gift Voucher as usual 
  2. Retain the vouchers in their weekly batches until further notice
  3. Scan your voucher redemption form 
  4. Create an email with “Gift voucher redemption”, your membership number and the total amount being redeemed in the email’s subject line. 
  5. Attach the scanned redemption form to the email
  6. Send the email to finance@mta.org.nz
  7. Once the Alert level is reduced and Head Office is operating again, we’ll advise when to send your vouchers in.

Keeping you in the loop

We will continue to send email updates and update this page with new information on a regular basis.And remember, you can contact us on 0800 00 11 44 or email mta@mta.org.nz.  

Helpful Sites & Resources

For additional up-to-date information relating to you and your employees, head to these sites:

Additional Resources:

My Auto Shop – driving business to your door

MTA has been working closely with a new business called My Auto Shop

We know that filling your workshop as fast as possible after lockdown is the highest priority and we believe partnering with My Auto Shop will help do that.

My Auto Shop has built an innovative way for customers to book vehicle services and repairs online, as well as a unique way to pick up and drop off customer vehicles

The platform is open to any MTA member around the country, and they will be doing a big marketing push once business is operating again, so are looking for more members to send the work to. If you're interested in getting on board, fill out the short information form (link below) and they will be in touch with next steps.

For more detailed information on how the platform works for members, have a look through this info pack and/or read through these common FAQs.

Register your interest at My Auto Shop Interest Form >>

Disclaimer:

The MTA website contains information for MTA Members obtained from a variety of sources including MTA, its Members, the New Zealand Government, and from sources commissioned by MTA, and is subject to change without notice.

Every endeavour has been taken by MTA to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date.  Any legal information contained in this website is intended as a general guide and is not a detailed legal analysis.

  • Members are recommended to take specific, independent advice from qualified professional people before undertaking any action following information received from this website.
  • MTA does not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever whether in contract, tort, equity or otherwise for any action taken as a result of reading, or reliance placed on MTA because of having read, any part, or all, of the information in this website or for any error, inadequacy, deficiency, flaw in or omission from the information provided in this site.
  • All links and references to other websites, organisations or people not within MTA are provided for convenience only and should not be taken as endorsement of those websites or information contained in those websites nor of organisations or people referred to.
  • MTA also does not implicitly or impliedly endorse any website, organisation or people who have off-site links to the website. All visitors who ignore this disclaimer do so at their own risk.
  • MTA endeavours to the best of its ability and knowledge to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and current. However, we cannot accept any liability for the accuracy or content of material on this website.

Links to third party websites

MTA does not accept any liability for the accuracy or content of information on this website that belongs to third parties; nor for the accuracy or content of any third-party website that you may access via a hyperlink from this site.

When visiting other websites, please refer to the conditions of use and copyright policies of those sites.