Government offers lump payment for self-isolating employees awaiting Covid-19 test results

Source: 1News

Financial strains on Kiwis having to self-isolate while awaiting a Covid-19 test are now a little lighter, thanks to the Government’s new addition to their pandemic support package.

A health worker checks a swab at a Covid-19 testing station

The Short-Term Absence Payment (or STAP for short), which rolls out from tomorrow, will allow for staff to receive a lump sum of $350 from their employers while self-isolating if they can't work from home, the Government announced today.

Businesses will need to get in contact with the Ministry of Social Development to apply for the grant if they have workers that are needing to self-isolate who can't work from home.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says the new move will aid in reducing any barriers that prevents Kiwis from getting tested.

The package also applies to household and secondary close contacts that are required to stay home and self-isolate in line with public health guidance.

“Testing for Covid-19 remains critical to our ongoing element in our elimination strategy,” Sepuloni said.

“This payment will help reduce financial pressure on businesses and encourage them to continue their valuable role in keeping Covid-19 in check.”

STAP can be used to cover the workers’ sick leave while they’re unable to work; it can also be extended to help workers who aren’t eligible to take time off for sick leave.

ACT leader David Seymour welcomed the new support package but criticised the delay in rolling it out, claiming Labour pushed ahead with extending sick leave as an election sweetener instead of supporting businesses.

"In fact, the Government cynically used Covid-19 as an excuse to implement an ideological goal when the real solution was right before them all along," he said in a statement. 

"Labour should front up and admit extending sick leave for all workers was a $1 billion bribe." 

Seymour says ACT had proposed introducing pay for those affected by Covid-19 earlier last year while the Government had opted against it, a move which he says now proves that the extended sick leave was "not about Covid-19". 

Minister for Workplace Relations Michael Wood says the package is there to assist employers affected by an employee who’s needing to self-isolate.

At the moment, testing is only recommended if you're symptomatic or have been to a location of interest listed by the Ministry of Health.

If you think you require a test, people are advised to contact Healthline.