What businesses and services can expect from us during the COVID-19 response, and what we expect of businesses and services under all Alert Levels. All businesses and services must continue to eliminate or minimise work health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes businesses and services whose workers are working from home.

Our regulatory approach 

WorkSafe has enforcement responsibilities under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 (COVID-19 legislation) and its orders.  

We continue to support and encourage businesses and services to meet requirements under the relevant COVID-19 legislation alert level requirements orders and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). 

We expect businesses and services to comply with the alert level requirements for their region, so far as is reasonably practicable. There are new requirements in place for face coverings and contact record keeping. We understand this means businesses and services have to put enhanced systems and processes in place, and it may take time to get these right. 

Therefore, we will take an ‘educate first’ approach for businesses and services that aren’t meeting COVID-19 legislation requirements.  

If a business or service then fails to make the changes we expect to see, we will consider taking enforcement action.  

Although there is no face-to-face engagement at Alert Level 4, we have an escalation process for cases where there is a compelling reason and will use it if required.  

Unite against COVID-19(external link) has comprehensive COVID-19 information for businesses and services, including about face coverings and the contact record rule.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner | Guidance on mandatory record keeping for contact tracing(external link) has information about meeting privacy requirements.

What businesses and services can expect from us

We will continue to work to ensure that businesses and services protect their workers. HSWA applies just as much now as at other times.

Alert level requirements mean we have to do this work differently. We are:

  • prioritising support for the Government response to COVID-19
  • supporting businesses and services when they are able to do 
  • providing information and support to those who need it.

We’ll also change the way we work to ensure we are not putting our people, other workers, and the rest of the community at risk. 

We have received requests to endorse industry guidance about managing the risks of COVID-19 at work. While we continue to support our industry partners to understand what’s required of them, we are not endorsing industry guidance. This is because the evolving nature of the pandemic means there can be rapid changes in requirements, outdating guidance quickly.

What we expect of businesses and services

All businesses and services must continue to eliminate or minimise work health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes businesses and services whose workers are working from home.

We expect all businesses and services to continue to look after their people and act in good faith at all times.

It’s important that businesses and services:

  • follow government advice about doing business (external link)
  • follow Ministry of Health advice(external link) about managing the risk of COVID-19 at work
  • listen to workers’ concerns about the risk to their own work health and safety created by the COVID-19 outbreak, and concerns they might have about infecting people in their bubble
  • engage with workers to identify and assess the new risks created by the outbreak, complete a risk assessment, and put appropriate controls in place
  • review and monitor the risks regularly to make sure the controls remain effective.

What workers need to know 

Business and services have to address, so far as is reasonably practicable, any risk they’ve identified because of COVID-19. This includes the risk of transferring the virus at work and any other risks that arise from implementing control measures against COVID-19.

Businesses and services have duties to work together with their workers to address these risks. Workers should be engaged and consulted on all matters that affect their health and safety.

In some situations, it won’t be possible for businesses and services to eliminate all the risks associated with COVID-19. Where the risks can’t be eliminated, we expect them to be minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable. 

If workers are feeling unsafe at work, they should talk to their manager in the first instance and work together to find the best way to eliminate or minimise the risk. Managers should be able to explain why the activity is needed, and what the steps they have put in place can and can’t do. Remember that this is a fast-moving situation and none of us has all the answers. 

If the PCBU you’re working for isn’t following the advice provided by us or MoH you should talk to your manager about your concerns. You can also: 

There may be a situation where workers believe their only option is to stop working. Under Section 83 of HSWA, workers have the right to do so in certain circumstances, but this should be a last resort, where exposure to COVID 19 is a very real and immediate or imminent risk. That might happen where insufficient steps are in place to properly manage the risk. 

If workers choose to take this step, it’s important to tell the person they work for as soon as possible and try to resolve the matter with them. Workers should also involve their health and safety representative if they have one. Workers’ managers are entitled to direct workers to do alternative work that is safe and within the scope of their employment agreement or other contract. Workers can also agree to do work outside of this scope.