Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements

Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being made redundant because of Covid-19 and the looming recession. In response I and Raise the Bar’s legal advocate Toby Cooper, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights as hospo workers. However these blogs can be used by any worker in any industry. Toby has written our first one: 

All restaurants, bars, and cafes will close within the next 48 hours. This includes takeaway services. In 48 hours time, NZ will be at Level 4 for the next 4 weeks.

The $150,000 maximum on the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy package has now been removed. This means that, for the next 12 weeks, any employer that can show a 30% loss in business will be entitled to receive payments for every single employee for the next 12 weeks. This means that no employees should be made redundant (unless their employer does not meet that 30% loss threshold). Any business entitled to the Wage Subsidy package will be able to keep on all its employees for the next 12 weeks (although these employees may receive slightly less than usual but should be receiving at least 80% of their regular pay in total).

If your business is entitled to this but you are being made redundant, the first thing to do is to urgently contact your employer to try and sort things out directly. You may have legal grounds for a personal grievance claim if you are dismissed by an employer entitled to this package, but would need to complain in writing to the employer within 90 days of redundancy.

Let’s say an employee was made redundant a week ago and is now either working out their two week notice period or being paid out their two week notice. If they are still within their contractual notice period, which they would be, I would argue that since they are still technically employees of the business, their employer should retract the decision to make them redundant and should instead seek to access the Wage Subsidy on their behalf. If an employee’s notice period has expired, then they are unfortunately not helped here.

If you would like further support, please get in touch with Raise the Bar:

E: raisethebarcampaign@gmail.com

FB: @raisethebarnz and we have also set up a hospo support group on FB, Aotearoa Hospitality Workers’ Helping Each Other Through Covid-19

*Chloe Ann-King, is a noted workers and welfare rights advocate and activist who founded Raise the Bar: your hospo campaign, in 2016. She has also written extensively about the impacts of low waged and precarious work in Aotearoa and around the world. Previously she volunteered extensively with Unions in both Aotearoa and Australia and last year she studied for a Post Grad Cert in Human Rights, which expanded her legal knowledge.

*Toby Cooper is legally trained and has previously worked as an employment lawyer in one of Aotearoa’s top boutique employment firms. He’s currently volunteering at Community Law and with Raise the Bar, and has a passion for supporting low waged workers by empowering them with legal knowledge and understanding.

If you would like to support Raise the Bar, you can donate via:

  • PayPal: king.chloe@gmail.com (we are working on setting up a Raise the Bar PayPal asap)
  • Patreon
  • Direct Bank Account: MISS C A KING, 12-3040-0580277-01

All donations go towards maintaining Raise the Bar, we are also hoping to set up funds for hospo workers who need a koha for food, rent and other necessities.