2022 sees the world entering the third year of this pandemic – but hopefully, this is the beginning of the end.

Restrictions have been introduced and then removed (and introduced again), but for all the coming and going it’s important to remember that employment laws do not change; they still apply to all employment relationships, regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

Things like sick leave, minimum wage and employment contracts are unaffected by COVID-19, so both employers and employees need to be mindful of that.

On top of that, Health and Safety laws and public health guidelines still apply, so employees have a legal right to a safe workplace, this also includes contractors and even customers.

Holidays under COVID

The pandemic has changed how we live and as a result, both employers and workers need to be flexible when it comes to holidays.

Just like before COVID, employers cannot make employees take sick leave if they are not sick, nor can they force annual leave on anyone.

Pandemic or not, workers must be paid their normal working rate for their normal working hours, even if the business is struggling financially.

If a business is struggling, employers can get assistance to pay wages from the government, with full details on the Work and Income website.


Workers can not force employees to get a vaccination (although it’s strongly recommended you do). What an employer can insist on certain types of roles only be filled by vaccinated employees. These roles usually fall under a high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others.

Government Public Health Orders can also require that certain types of work must be done by vaccinated workers, for example, in relation to border workers and certain workers in the education sector, health sector and disability sector.

Top 10 things to remember

To recap some key points about employment rights and responsibilities, the government has created these 10 Essential Facts.

While there is more information to know, these are key points that employers and employees should be aware of.

If there are any disputes, both parties should always act in good faith and try to come to an agreement before going to a third party or bringing the law into it.

This includes always being open, honest and communicative with each other.

We all need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect New Zealand and keep each other safe.