Covid-19 update for Treasurers

PCANZ has just issued a useful guide to the Government Subsidy for employers which does seem to cover local churches and their ’employment’ of ministers. Below is an extract from the latest Treasurers’ Newsletter. The full March Newsletter can be found here.

The impact of Covid-19 will have financial implications for many parishes and we (PCANZ) have started to receive some questions about this. We want to remind treasurers that terms of call are set by presbytery and if congregations need to raise concerns about their financial viability, and in particular their ability to fund their minister’s stipend or staff salaries and wages, the first step is to engage with presbytery.

We note the Government has announced a set of financial packages relating to the impact of Covid-19. We have now received confirmation that parishes and other charities are able to apply for the subsidy. Details on how to apply are below. We have also sought advice from the Book of Order Advisory Committee about whether ministers are eligible, and our advice is that ministers may be eligible (as ministers are called and are not employees, it isn’t clear whether they qualify). Again, we are seeking further advice on this point and will provide a further update as soon as we have more information.

To ensure your request is considered, we recommend that any parishes wishing to make an application to the Ministry of Social Development for financial relief do so. The turnaround on claims has so far been quick and the full 12-week subsidy is paid up front.

To be eligible, the parish must have suffered, or are projected to suffer at least a 30% decline in revenue compared to last year for any month between January 2020 and the end of the scheme in June 2020. One would assume that proof of turnover will be required at some future point and there may be claw-backs for parishes who receive the subsidy but cannot demonstrate a decline in income.

Parishes are required to enter a NZ Business Number on their application. If you do not have a NZBN you can apply for one. Please click here to be taken to the Charities Services website which provides information on the process you will need to follow.

Undertakings required by the Employer

  1. Employers will need to declare that, on their best endeavours, they will continue to employ the affected employees at a minimum of 80% of their income for the duration of the subsidy period. This is the equivalent of keeping people working 4 out of 5 days of the week.
  2. Employers must also have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and sign a declaration form to that effect.

Parishes can apply to MSD for the subsidy at this link:

Leave Payments

The leave payment is to cover employees and contractors who:

  • Need to self-isolate in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines; or
  • Cannot work due to being diagnosed with Covid-19; or
  • Cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are sick or who are required to self-isolate.

The weekly amounts are the same as the wage subsidy above, but the employer must reapply for this leave every 14 days. It can be paid for the entire period the employee is sick but on the basis the employee cannot work from home.