Guidance for State services agencies on workforce mobility – 25 March 2020

As we support each other in the current environment to ensure the work needed through COVID-19 is delivered, it’s important that employees can be deployed to critical services in other agencies that have a particular need.

We are making this as simple as possible during this time. This workforce mobility guidance applies throughout Alert Level 4.

Agencies that are able to release employees, need to work with their staff and their unions to make temporary changes in work arrangements to support other parts of the system. This means involving them in developing the arrangements with other agencies.

The overarching principle is that an employee’s employment terms and conditions with their home agency remain the same, recognising that the location and hours of work may change. In this environment, the home agency will continue to pay the employee directly. The employee should not be disadvantaged by the deployment. This includes being paid for the normal number of hours for that staff member even if deployment is for fewer hours. The host agency has the responsibility for providing the tools to do the job well and to provide a safe working environment.

Agencies should take into account the individuals’ circumstances and needs when deciding on deployment. For example:

  • People who are at higher risk to COVID-19 should not be deployed, including:
    • Those aged over 70 years
    • People with medical conditions
    • People undergoing a treatment for cancer and blood conditions
    • Pregnant women
    • People without easy access to health care.
  • This includes not deploying people whose self-isolation bubble includes people who are at a higher risk to COVID-19.
  • Some people may not be able to be retrained or use certain equipment eg because of disability.
  • There should be agreement on any changes to location or hours taking into account the individual’s circumstances eg, childcare responsibilities. 

This guidance applies whether you are supporting a one-off interagency arrangement around a key employee or the employees are part of the Critical Workforce response. (The Critical Workforce is responsible for ensuring New Zealand has sufficient people to maintain critical public services across local and central government to sustain the Government’s COVID-19 response. It excludes Health, Education and Infrastructure).

Note: this guidance has been prepared with input from the PSA.

Home agency responsibility

  • The employee’s existing terms and condition apply (whether that is a collective agreement or an individual agreement).
  • Continue to pay the employees involved and provide necessary payroll and leave administration.
  • Provide the host agency with relevant contact and emergency contact details.
  • The home agency will need to agree health and safety arrangements and procedures with the host agency as both will have Persons Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) responsibilities for the employees being deployed. This includes consulting, co-operating, and co-ordinating with the host agency as required under s.34 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure that staff will be going into a healthy and safe work environment and that risks will be appropriately managed. 
  • Provide assurance to the host agency that the employees have relevant criminal/credit checks where appropriate. 

Host agency

  • Is responsible for providing a safe and healthy working environment in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. This includes appropriately managing health and safety risks, including when the employee is working from home.
  • Stays in contact with the home agency regarding any health and safety issues.
  • Provides equipment, security access and training as required.
  • Puts systems in place to capture leave and hours worked by deployed employees and notify the home agency to ensure applicable terms and conditions are applied.
  • Escalates any employment relations issues to the home agency contact. 

Individual responsibility

  • Existing employment terms and conditions apply including adherence to the State Services Code of Conduct. Your host agency will notify your home employer if your hours or days of work change.
  • Record hours using employer (home agency’s) payroll recording mechanisms if required.
  • Notify host immediately if you become unwell and report any health and safety incident or concern as per the process agreed upon between the host and home agencies.
  • Respect confidentiality for any personal or sensitive information of both agencies that you may have access to.
  • Comply with host agencies policies.

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