General Wellbeing and assistance

Ensure Your Safety

  • Your health and safety and the health and safety of your employees is paramount.
  • If your building cannot be accessed or it has not been cleared for entry by the authorities then do not enter. 
  • Do not enter your building if there is any sign of structural damage. You must ensure that your building is safe before you or your employees enter. As an employer and/or building owner this is your responsibility.
  • If you are able to enter your building you will need to ascertain the status of water and sanitation.
  • If it is essential for some staff to attend work, they should do so and but only where it is confirmed that the workplace is structurally sound and has adequate amenities and sanitation. If your building is safe and staff are able to enter the premises then function as best you can.

Risk Management

  • Ensure you have documented and photographed all damage - both structural and contents - before clean up as insurers will be busy. You will need to collate all evidence of damage to be able to support your claims.
  • Where your business is unable to open either due to inaccessibility or damage, check with your business insurer first to determine whether your policy covers lost remuneration for employees in circumstances like these

Paying Staff

  • The question of whether you are obliged to pay your employees is a matter to be determined by the terms of the applicable employment agreement.  Some employment agreements will contain provisions expressly dealing with situations following events such as earthquakes and may provide relief from the obligation to pay wages.  The majority of employment agreements will not and it is here that the position is largely untested in the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.
  • Where your employees do not have any leave entitlements, or if you are unable or unwilling to agree to staff taking leave in advance, you will have to decide whether or not you have the capacity to continue paying wages.

The current consensus is that in normal circumstances employers have on-going obligations to pay wages where staff remain ready and willing to work.  The present circumstances are clearly unusual in that some employers are unable to provide employees with work through circumstances that are beyond their control.  

If you are unable to provide your employees with work and where you can pay your employees’ wages for a period of time without fundamentally jeopardising the future of your business, then you should try and do so, at least in the short-term. Where paying employees’ wages is either impossible or would likely result in the complete failure of the business then you need to discuss these circumstances with your employees, ideally with a view to obtaining their agreement to taking leave without pay. If they do not agree to taking leave without pay, then you will need to commence consultation with the employees regarding possible redundancies. You should not proceed with this without obtaining detailed advice both in relation to the process to follow and in relation to selection of the staff to potentially be made redundant.

Please contact our advisers if you are unsure or need further advice: 0800 50 50 96 or

Other Assistance

The Chamber is continuing to work on ways we can support affected businesses - please continue to visit this webpage to keep up to date.

For Kaikoura Civil Defence updates, please refer to the Kaikoura District Council website

© Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Website maintained by Publica