COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.

Workers may also be eligible if they need to support a dependent (eg children or a family member with a disability) who has to stay home because they’re waiting on a COVID-19 test result.

There’s a one-off payment of $359 for each eligible worker. You can only apply for it once, for each eligible employee, in any 30-day period (unless a health official or doctor tells the employee to get another test).

It’s also available to self-employed people.


John works for a construction company. One morning, John wakes with a sore throat and flu-like symptoms. John decides to call into work to advise he can’t come in as he is sick. John arranges that day for a COVID-19 test. Due to his symptoms, John is advised not to return to work until he receives a negative test result. John’s test result comes back as negative on the second day, and John returns to work on the third day.

Payroll processing

John has taken two days as sick leave due to waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test. He has sick leave available to use

The employer pays him for his two days sick leave at his relevant daily pay in accordance with employment law.


RDP is $25 per hour x 9 hours (normal workday) = $225.00 gross pay, per day

$450.00 gross pay for two days sick leave

All other obligations under employment law remain.

Subsidy Income

The employer determines they can apply for the Short-Term Absence Payment to help pay John for his two days off while he was waiting for a negative test result. The employer is not currently receiving any other payments for John under the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme or a COVID-19 Wage Subsidy. The employer must obtain John’s consent to share his information onto the Ministry of Social Development and other agencies in order to apply for the payment.

The employer applies for the subsidy and receives $359.00 to help towards the payroll cost of John’s two sick leave days. The subsidy payment is exempt from GST.


Please ensure you read and understand the declaration you make when applying for this subsidy.

COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment (from 4pm on 12 March 2021)


How can we help?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Information is correct at time of publishing and is of a general nature.  Professional advice from your business partners should be sought. 

Need support with your business? Our Free Resources will Help