PNZ is continuing to monitor COVID-19 updates to provide members with information for physiotherapy businesses as it becomes available. Please also check the PNZ COVID-19 web page as there may be additional links relevant to your business. We are following Government advice and while our website is being updated regularly, please be aware that the latest resources are on the New Zealand Government pages.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) business.govt.nz website has a web page with COVID-19 information for businesses. This includes:
- Latest news and updates about COVID-19 and how it may affect your business
- Workplace operations at Alert Level 2
- Health and safety
- Cash flow loans and support
- Wage subsidy and leave support
- Business finance guarantee scheme
- Guidance and advice for employers
Please note the availability of:
- Loans for small businesses: the Government will provide loans to help businesses, including contractors and self-employed, tackle their cash flow.
- The temporary loss carry-back scheme: if your business is expected to make a loss in the 2020 or 2021 year, you can use that loss to offset profits you made the year before
Other Online Resources
- Accounting firm BDO have a web page with information about New Zealand business and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- MTM Accounting have a web page with COVID-19 advice on the wage subsidy, Government lending guarantee, rent relief, mortgage holiday for homeowners and end of financial year
- Grant Thornton have advice on the coronavirus cashflow crisis facing Kiwi businesses, including a COVID-19 Business Checklist
- New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have a web page with information for exporters
Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus
PNZ's employment support partner, Humankind, have provided an Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus. Please read this here (received March 2020), including answers to frequently asked questions.
Humankind also hosted a webinar for PNZ members on 1 April 2020, outlining employer obligations and options during COVID-19. A recording of the webinar is available here. Links to resources discussed in the webinar are below.
- COVID-19 considerations for employers
- 1737 – free counselling services for New Zealanders
- Mental Health Foundation website
NZ Government Economic & Business Support
Updated 25 March 2020
As the economic impact on businesses, organisations and their employees takes hold, the Government has announced an economic support package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following is a summary of the support package, from information collated by Physiotherapy New Zealand through Government sources (current as of 25 March 2020). Each business should carefully examine their requirements for both the business and their staff. Business advisors, accountants and lawyers should be able to provide further advice, if required.
Additionally you can call the free Government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week). Further details of the support provisions and the application forms are HERE.
Leave and self isolation support
The COVID-19 leave and self-isolation scheme financially supports workers to self-isolate, or stay home when sick with COVID-19. The COVID-19 Leave Payment is available for people who:
- need to self-isolate
- cannot work because they are sick with COVID-19
- cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate, or who are sick with COVID-19.
Note: This is for those sick with COVID-19, those looking after those sick or those who have had ordered to self isolate due to coming into contact with sufferers.
Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Government has put together a COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for employers in all regions. This is to support your business if you're impacted by COVID-19 and face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19. Wage subsidies will be available for businesses in all sectors and all regions that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue).
Who can get it?
If you're an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy. To qualify:
- your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand
- your employees must be legally working in New Zealand
- the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19
- your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
- you must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.
How much you can get?
The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:
- $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
- $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.
The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee. This subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business.
The Government has removed the cap on wage subsidies that can be paid to employers affected by COVID-19. The cap of $150,000 per business is gone. This applies to all New Zealand employers, contractors, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities and incorporated societies. You are now able to apply for a wage subsidy for all your staff.
Business cash flow and tax measures
Tax relief and income assistance is available to people affected by the downturn in business due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). There are a range of ways to help depending on your circumstances. If you have a tax agent, they should also be able to help.
Business cash flow and tax measures include:
- increasing the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000 from 2020/2021
- increasing the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 — and to $5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year
- allowing depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings from 2020/2021
- removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) from 1 July 2020.
Support of Māori communities and businesses
The Government has developed a plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. This includes a whole of Government approach to providing health, social and economic support tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori.
- a Whānau Māori Community and Mārae package reprioritising $10 million from the Māori Development vote to support community outreach
- Māori Health and Whānau Ora response with $30 million targeted directly to Māori Health services and an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies
- Supporting Māori Businesses and engaging with Māori with $1 million of funding to enable a needs assessment for Māori businesses, and $470,000 to Te Arawhiti to engage and work with iwi on their COVID-19 pandemic response plans.
Financing Guarantee Scheme
A new $6.25bn business financing guarantee scheme is being launched and the Government will underwrite bank loans to small and medium-size business. The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress on solvent small and medium-sized firms affected. The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million a year. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates. The Government will carry 80% of the credit risk, with the other 20% to be carried by the banks. Please contact your bank for details of this.
Mortgage Repayment Holiday
The Government has also negotiated a mortgage repayment holiday for six months for households affected financially by COVID-19. Again please contact your bank for details of this.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some physiotherapy specific Frequently Asked Questions are below. We will continue to add to these where it is helpful to provide more specific advice not covered elsewhere. Because the answers are date specific we have dated the answers and will update as the situation changes.
Will telehealth be funded if we can’t see patients?
- ACC have agreed to fund physiotherapists to provide telehealth for initial contact and follow up. The ACC rates are published here.
- PNZ is continuing to advocate for an increase in this funding as we do not believe it reflects the actual cost or values the service provided.
- Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.
If we are using telehealth what is the best platform out of Skype/Messenger/WhatsApp/Hangouts? If the client doesn’t have access to technology can we use a phone only?
- PNZ doesn’t have a recommended platform.
- You will need to consider patient preference and how a remote consultation can be achieved. The ability to be able to use any one / two that cross over apple and android would be best…..or the ability to use all 4.
- Please refer to Risk Management For Skype Use For Clinical Video Consultations.
- Here is the link to the AHANZ telehealth guidelines.
- The service needs to meet the Physiotherapy Telehealth Standard.
- ACC expectations are that telehealth services will be via videoconferencing as this type of capability is integrated into many practice management systems and many people have smart phones. However as a COVID-19 response they will accept telephone consultations as per the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand guidelines below.
- ACC’s reference for tech used and security is existing guidelines as per NZ Telehealth Forum and Resource Centre.
- Recognising that not all people accessing services have access to technology the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand have set out some guidelines on telehealth during COVID-19.
- Answer reviewed 1 April 2020.
What cleaning product should I be using in my clinics?
- The Ministry of Health are recommending hospital grade disinfectant in primary care. See the end of this document.
- Answer reviewed 18 March 2020.
Should I be cancelling group exercise classes?
- Please refer to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 - Advice for public events and mass gatherings and covid19.govt.nz measures through the COVID-19 Alert System.
- Answer reviewed 14 May 2020.
Where can I get training on Covid-19?
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have teamed up with the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team to offer a new course on COVID-19. Starting on 23 March 2020 and running for three weeks, this online course is being offered at no cost. Read more here.
- Physioplus is providing an online programme of courses on COVID- 2019 at no cost. The aim of the course is to provide a practicing physiotherapist with the knowledge, practices and skills to allow them to play a proactive role in global and local efforts to reduce the impact of this pandemic. Read more here.
- Answer reviewed 20 March 2020.
What happens if a Physio gets corona virus?
- As with any person getting the virus a physio should follow the Ministry advice. Call the dedicated Healthline - 08003585453.
- The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand will be sending out information about notification if a physiotherapist has COVID-19.
- The PNZ insurance programmes through BMS are designed to protect members against professional indemnity and/or public liability.
- Members who have a personal accident or illness policy to protect their own incomes whilst unable to work should check to see what cover this would provide.
- Members should also refer to their clinic insurance for any potential business continuity cover that may apply due to closure or loss of income.
- Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.
What can physiotherapists do to support the Public Health COVID19 response?
- The Ministry of Health have set up a register of health professionals available to support the COVID-19 response. Register here.
- If you are asked to work from this register it is paid. Exact pay rate will be established on a case-by-case basis depending on what the work is.
- Every attempt will be made to match job skills to tasks and there will be an element of choice. The main employers seeking additional workforce will be District Health Boards, and they each have an Allied Health leadership position, Director of Allied Health (DAH) in the organisation to support this process and help ensure that allied health workers are assigned appropriately.
- Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.
If I take on work from the Ministry of Health register will this be covered by my BMS insurance policy through PNZ?
- The DHBs are each expected to have blanket insurance that covers clinical practice of the whole clinical workforce, so seconded staff would be covered by that.
- Answer reviewed 30 March 2020
Why isn’t physiotherapy listed as an essential service by the Ministry of Health?
- PNZ and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand put out a joint statement following lengthy discussions with Ministry of Health regarding the status of community based physiotherapy services.
- The public health imperative to reduce person to person contact to an absolute minimum overrode any considerations about the important place of physiotherapy in the primary health system and post op rehab. IF, and at this stage it is a big IF, we manage to reduce the number of new people infected and keep our mortality rate low New Zealand will have achieved a world first. It will also mean we come out of this emergency situation faster.
- If we get things under control the restrictions will be reviewed and we can expect change. The important role of physiotherapy is recognised in the Ministry of Health and we have the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer at the top table in the Ministry.
- PNZ will continue to advocate on your behalf.
- Answer reviewed 24 March 2020.
I provide services to essential workers – does that mean I am an essential service too?
- Basically it is the nature of the need for physiotherapy that is important here. If it is possible by remote means – then yes. If not possible and is critical – then the physio needs to determine the best way for that to be done taking into account the critical nature / risk to themselves, the patient and the community.
- The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ) has put out guidance on assessing whether your service is essential. If you believe you meet the criteria for an essential service we recommend you check with PBNZ. The best email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.
What are the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ) CPD requirements?
- A PBNZ 18 March 2020 COVID-19 update provides assurance to physiotherapists, that any course attendance impacted by cancellations due to COVID-19 will have this taken in to consideration during any audits PBNZ may undertake.
- Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.
Page updated 14 April 2020